Strong Q1 results prompts Bayer to lift 2011 outlook

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The German chemical and pharmaceutical group Bayer posted on Thursday an 8.4 percent increase in first-quarter net profit to 684 million euros ($1.0 billion).

Bayer, the maker of Aspirin, also raised its full-year forecast after first-quarter sales gained 13.2 percent to 9.415 billion euros and operating profit rose by four percent 1.148 billion.

All three of Bayer's main divisions contributed to the results, and chief executive Marijn Dekkers expressed particular satisfaction with results from the group's CropScience unit.

"We are raising our group sales and earnings forecast for this year, mainly because of the improvement we expect at CropScience," a statement quoted Dekkers as saying.

Earnings were curbed by 442 million euros in charges however, including 194 million taken in connection with the settlement of cases brought in the United States against Bayer's genetically modified rice programme.

Core earnings before special items gained 34.6 percent to 1.59 billion euros, while the group's debt was cut by 800 million euros to 7.1 billion.

For the full year, Bayer now expects sales to grow by five to seven percent, a slight improvement on its earlier forecast for growth of four to six percent.

That should put them between 36 and 37 billion euros, the statement said.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda)is forecast to exceed 7.5 billion euros, compared with an initial estimate of "toward 7.5 billion euros."

© 2011 AFP

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