May 15, 2018 / 5:47 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Merck KGaA Q1 earnings down on liquid crystals, currencies

* Q1 adj EBITDA down 18 pct, in line with view

* Sees 3.75-4.0 bln eur in adj EBITDA from cont ops

* Strong euro to cause 5-7 percent drag on 2018 EBITDA (Adds detailed guidance, forex effects)

By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT, May 15 (Reuters) - Germany’s Merck KGaA saw earnings decline in the first quarter and predicted a drop for the full year, hurt by Chinese competition in liquid crystals used in flat screens and a strong euro weighing on the value of overseas sales.

Merck on Tuesday reported 1.02 billion euros ($1.22 billion) in first quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), down 18 percent and in line with market expectations.

The chemicals and drugs maker said it expected adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations to decline to 3.75 to 4.0 billion euros in 2018, stripping out 170 to 200 million euros from the consumer healthcare unit it has agreed to sell to Procter & Gamble for 3.4 billion euros.

That compares with 4.4 billion euros in 2018.

Merck predicted exchange rate effects would cause a drag of 5 to 7 percent on 2018 EBITDA, worse then the forecast it had provided in March, for a 4 to 6 percent hit. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger Editing by Edward Taylor and Maria Sheahan)

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