October 31, 2019 / 7:05 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Japanese drugmaker Takeda cuts full-year loss forecast

(Adds CEO comment, detail on debt repayment)

TOKYO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Takeda Pharmaceutical trimmed its full-year loss forecast on strong sales of its core drugs and progress in its consolidation with Shire Plc.

Operating loss for the full year ending March 2020 will be 110 billion yen ($1.02 billion), Takeda said Thursday, posting results for the first half. That compares with its previous estimate for a loss of 166 billion yen and an average estimate of a 102.99 billion yen loss in a poll of 11 analysts by Refinitiv.

Takeda chief executive officer Christophe Weber said strong performance of the company’s 14 global brands along with cost savings from the merger contributed to the improved forecast.

“It’s not easy to integrate such two large companies, but we are very pleased that we are on track,” Weber said at a press briefing in Tokyo.

Japan’s biggest drugmaker surprised markets in May when it reversed its full-year profit forecast to a loss, citing costs associated with its $59 billion takeover of Ireland-based Shire.

Buying Shire expanded Takeda’s drug pipeline and diversified its global sales, with half of its revenue now coming from the United States. But it also saddled the company with debt.

Takeda now has outstanding bonds and loans worth 6.1 trillion yen from less than 1 trillion yen before the deal.

To pare down debt, Takeda has pledged to dispose of $10 billion worth of non-core assets. Those divestitures have amounted to about $5.9 billion so far in 2019, including assets in the Middle East and Africa and a dry-eye drug sold for $5.3 billion to Novartis.

Weber did not elaborate on future sell-offs but said the company had paid of 584.5 billion yen in debt in the first half as part of the company’s deleveraging goal.

Takeda is aiming to focus on five key areas: oncology, gastroenterology, neuroscience, rare disease, and plasma-derived therapies, businesses that contribute about 75% of its total revenue.

Driving sales in the first half were the company’s colitus treatment Entyvio and anti-cancer drug Ninlaro, which both posted sales gains of more than 30%.

Takeda posted an operating profit of 50.3 billion yen for the six months through September, compared with a profit of 172 billion yen a year earlier. Sales increased 89 percent to 1.66 trillion yen.

On a quarterly basis, operating profit slid 45% to 40.4 billion yen from a year earlier. ($1 = 108.3500 yen) (Reporting by Rocky Swift Editing by Himani Sarkar, Shri Navaratnam & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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