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Sanofi raises outlook as speciality care and vaccines lift sales

PARIS (Reuters) - Sanofi raised its 2020 earnings guidance for the second time this year after posting slightly stronger-than-expected third-quarter results on Thursday, helped by growth at its speciality care and vaccines units.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Sanofi is pictured during the company's shareholders meeting in Paris, France, April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

The French drugmaker said it now expected earnings per share to increase 7-8% this year, up from 6-7% previously.

Revenue in Sanofi’s vaccine arm was up 13.6% at constant exchange rates to 2 billion euros ($2.36 billion) in the third quarter, which it said was due to record flu vaccine sales.

Governments across the world have been calling for increased influenza vaccination, especially among at-risk populations, to avoid additional pressure on healthcare and hospital systems already strained by the coronavirus crisis.

Sanofi said earlier this year it would increase flu vaccines production by 20% to meet a surge in demand, but shortages are still being experienced in several European regions.

The company also confirmed it was on track with its two vaccines projects to tackle COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus which has killed more than 1.16 million, caused chaos in the world economy and disrupted the life of billions.

Interim phase I/II results of a protein-based vaccine candidate in collaboration with Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline are expected by the end of November or early December.

If successful, late-stage trials are expected to start soon after.

The two companies struck a deal earlier this week to supply 200 million doses of the vaccine to a global inoculation scheme backed by the World Health Organization.

Sanofi’s quarterly earnings were also boosted by its star eczema and asthma treatment Dupixent, whose sales leapt 69%.

Net income in the third quarter was up 9.4% at 2.3 billion euros, while revenue rose 5.7% to 9.48 billion.

Analysts polled by Refinitiv had expected on average net income of 2.27 billion euros and sales of 9.75 billion.

In a separate announcement, Sanofi said it would sponsor a clinical trial to assess the efficacy of one of its potential immunotherapy treatments with U.S. group Merck’s Keytruda in patients with various cancers.

($1 = 0.8461 euros)

Reporting by Matthias Blamont, Editing by Sarah White and Mark Potter