Sanofi-Aventis posts 18 pct profit rise in 2004

1st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 1 (AFP) - Sanofi-Aventis, the French pharmaceutical firm, posted Tuesday forecast-beating net profit for 2004 and said it expected earnings this year to be in line with the 2004 performance.

PARIS, March 1 (AFP) - Sanofi-Aventis, the French pharmaceutical firm, posted Tuesday forecast-beating net profit for 2004 and said it expected earnings this year to be in line with the 2004 performance.

Sanofi-Aventis, formed last year in the merger of French firm Sanofi Synthelabo and Franco-German life sciences giant Aventis, said it had adjusted pro forma net profit of EUR 5.247 billion (USD 6.927 billion), up 17.9 percent from EUR 4.451 billion in 2003 and ahead of analysts' forecasts.

Adjusted pro forma operating profit was at EUR 8.163 billion compared with EUR 7.254 billion a year earlier, including some EUR 220 million in merger synergies.

SA said it expected adjusted earnings per share for the full year 2005 to be in-line with the performance in 2004, when EPS rose 18.2 percent from a year earlier to EUR 3.89.

Sales last year were up 4.6 percent at EUR 25.418 billion, or up 10 percent on a like-for-like basis. The operating margin was up 2.2 points at 32.1 percent.

The company also said it expected like-for-like sales growth over the current year to outpace that of the global pharmaceuticals market.

That growth should be accompanied by merger synergies which meet the group's previous forecasts.

The company said the integration was going faster than expected, but stuck by a target of EUR 960 million for 2005 and EUR 1.6 billion for 2006.

Net debt, mainly due to Sanofi's acquisition of Aventis, rose to EUR 14.3 billion by year-end, against a pro forma EUR 2.4 billion at end-2003. The company reiterated its target to repay the debt within five years.

On the group's pipeline, the company noted that it has 128 products in research and development at the moment with 48 of those in either phase II or III trials.

Sanofi-Aventis said it would propose to shareholders a dividend for 2004 at EUR 1.20, up 17.6 percent from EUR 1.02 a year earlier, and representing a payout ratio of 30.8 percent.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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