Sanofi-Aventis reports profit surge on emerging markets

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French pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis reported a surge in second-quarter net profit on Thursday to 1.707 billion euros (2.2 billion dollars) with the help of sales on emerging markets and in the field of diabetes.

The equivalent figure of 1.059 billion euros last year had been set back by a big provision for restructuring.

The quarterly figure took the outcome for the first six months of the year to 3.421 billion euros, a rise of 29.7 percent.

Sales in the quarter rose by 4.6 percent to 7.783 billion euros with the help of favourable exchange rates, and over six months by 4.3 percent to 15.168 billion euros.

The group is restructuring to save 2.0 billion euros in the five years to 2013 and expects to have achieved half of this by the end of this year.

Chief executive Chris Viehbacher said that the second quarter had "symbolised the transition under way at the group."

The old Sanofi-Aventis was giving way to a new company based on activities offering lasting growth.

US authorities recently approved a rival generic form of the company's second-most successful drug, the anticoagulant Lovenox which generated sales of 866 million euros in the second quarter.

But Viehbacher said that the company had foreseen such competition a long time ago.

Sales of its other anticoagulant Plavix and of a cancer treatment Eloxatine are already affected by sales of generic treatments. Sales of Plavix fell by 27.3 percent in the second quarter, and of Eloxatine by 76.2 percent.

Viehbacher said that the future of the group lay in treatments for diabetes, which had grown by 10.6 percent in the quarter, on sales in emerging markets up 12.8 percent and in treatments available to the public at large which had risen by 65.4 percent, owing largely to recent takeovers.

The group said it expected a record season this year for sales of anti-flu vaccines.

He said that the company was looking at small or medium-sized takeover opportunities, which could amount to 20 billion dollars.

The company, which has made a number of takeovers recently, had net debt of 6.171 billion euros at the end of June.

© 2010 AFP

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