March 14, 2018 / 8:31 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 2-Drugmaker Hikma sees more layoffs in generics business

(Adds CFO comment, updates shares)

By Justin George Varghese

March 14 (Reuters) - Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc is expected to cut more jobs in its generics business to save costs, the Jordan-based drugmaker said on Wednesday, after reporting full-year profit and revenue largely in line with expectations.

Hikma, which was forced to cut revenue guidance for its generics business three times in 2017 due to pricing pressures in the United States, has cut 200 jobs since it bought the business from Boehringer Ingelheim in 2016, CFO Khalid Nabilsi said in a call to Reuters.

Nabilsi added that another 200 jobs would go as a result of the consolidation of its generics’ manufacturing facilities and U.S. distribution centres.

Hikma, which named former Teva Pharmaceutical generics head Sigurdur Olafsson as CEO in a bid to improve the business, posted full-year generics revenue of $615 million, beating its expectation of about $600 million.

It forecast revenue from the business to be in the range of $550 million to $600 million in 2018 and said it expects a “high level of price erosion to continue into 2018”.

The company forecast revenue to range between $1.85 billion to close to $2 billion in 2018. In comparison, 2017 revenue fell marginally to $1.94 billion, in line with analysts’ estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Core earnings fell 5 percent to $468 million from last year, and was also largely in line with analysts’ estimate of $469.9 million.

Hikma shares rose 8.3 percent at 1127 GMT, the second biggest gainer on the FTSE midcap index.

“We see these results as reassuring in the context of poor market sentiment and multiple headwinds to the business and would expect a positive reaction,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note.

The company’s problems have been compounded by a delay in the launch of its generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s blockbuster lung drug Advair.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked Hikma on Monday to conduct a further clinical study evaluating the drug.

Apart from Hikma, rival generics firms Mylan and Novartis’ Sandoz division have also been in the running to create a copycat version of GSK’s blockbuster drug, but only to be so far knocked back by the FDA. (Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Sunil Nair and Mark Heinrich)

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