Pharma group Merck KGaA posts strong third-quarter results

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German pharmaceutical group Merck KGaA posted better-than-expected third quarter results Tuesday but lowered full-year targets following its acquisition of the chemical group Millipore in July.

Merck now forecasts a 70 percent jump in operating profit, down from an earlier estimate of 90 percent, and sees sales climbing by 19 percent rather than by 21 percent, it said in a statement.

The group, which also produces liquid crystals, said the changes were necessary owing to a re-evaluation of Massachusetts-based Millipore following its purchase for 5.1 billion euros (7.1 billion dollars).

Merck booked 48 million euros in depreciations in connection with the deal.

It also lowered its outlook for sales growth of liquid crystals and pharmaceutical products.

Excluding Millipore however, Merck raised its operating profit target to growth of 58 percent from an earlier outlook of 55 percent.

The acquisition of Millipore did help Merck's liquid crystal sales in the third quarter, as they gained 21 percent to 255 million euros.

The group's net profit was 40.6 percent stronger at 210.8 million euros, exceeding an analyst forecast compiled by Dow Jones Newswires of 183 million.

Group sales were 25 percent higher at 2.44 billion euros.

"We delivered another good quarter, with net profit especially giving reason to be pleased," Merck chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley was quoted as saying.

© 2010 AFP

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