Merck KGaA posts solid earnings, trims outlook
German chemical and pharmaceutical group Merck KGaA posted strong first quarter results on Thursday but scaled back its full-year outlook amid problems gaining approval for its MS drug Cladribine.
Merck, the world's leading maker of liquid crystals, posted a net profit of 341 million euros ($505 million), a gain of 78 percent from the first quarter of 2010 and well above an average analyst forecast of 257 million euros.
Sales were 22 percent stronger at 2.5 billion euros, a statement said.
Merck's 5.1-billion-euro acquisition of the US specialty chemical group Millipore was in large part responsible for the increases, as it accounted for almost one quarter of total sales at 611 million euros.
Millipore generates bio-tech products for the pharmaceutical, agro-industrial and cosmetic sectors.
But problems with Cladribine tablets, a treatment for multiple sclerosis, forced Merck to revise its full-year sales growth forecast lower, now within a range of 10-15 percent from the previous estimate of 13-18 percent.
Neither European nor US health authorities have approved the drug for sale, "in its present form," the Merck statement said.
Shares in the group nonetheless gained 1.45 percent to 70.1 euros in late morning trades on the Frankfurt stock exchange, while the DAX index on which they are listed was 0.60 percent higher overall.
© 2011 AFP