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Merck KgaA Stock Down On Weak Q1 Profit; Confirms FY18 Organic View

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Shares of Merck KGaA (MKGAY.PK) were losing around 3 percent in the early morning trading in Germany after the drug major reported Tuesday a lower profit in its first quarter as net sales were hurt by negative foreign exchange effects.

Further, the company, which is in deal with Procter & Gamble to sell its global Consumer Health business, said the sale will hurt fiscal 2018 results. However, the company confirmed full-year forecast for organic sales and adjusted EBITDA.

For the first quarter, profit after tax declined 34.8 percent to 342 million euros from 524 million euros last year.

Earnings per share fell 35 percent to 0.78 euro from 1.20 euros last year.

Adjusted earnings per share were 1.41 euros, compared to 1.80 euros a year ago.

EBITDA fell 21.4 percent to 946 million euros, and EBITDA margin dropped to 25.6% from 31.2% last year. Adjusted EBITDA was 1.02 billion euros, down 18.2 percent.

Net sales declined 4.4 percent to 3.69 billion euros from 3.86 billion euros a year earlier, owing to negative foreign exchange effects of 7.9 percent.

Group sales increased organically by 3.5%, mainly due to 8.8% growth in Life Science and 1.8 percent increase in Healthcare, while sales of the Performance Materials business sector declined organically by 4%.

Geographically, only Europe generated higher year-on-year sales in the first quarter of 2018. Sales in Europe grew slightly by 1.3%. In the other regions sales declined owing to very strong negative exchange rate effects.

In Asia-Pacific, sales fell 4.9 percent on a reported basis, but grew 3.5 percent organically. The net sales in North America dropped 8.1 percent , but organic growth was 5.4%.

Looking ahead, Merck said it continues to expect for the full year 2018 a moderate organic net sales increase of 3% to 5% over the previous year.

The planned divestment of Consumer Health business is likely to reduce full-year net sales of the Merck Group by between 0.9 billion euros and 1.0 billion euros. Overall, the company forecast Group net sales of 15.0 billion euros to 15.5 billion euros for 2018 based on an unchanged portfolio; and of 14.0 billion euros to 14.5 billion euros from continuing operations taking into account the divestment.

The company expects that Group EBITDA pre will be in a corridor between 3.95 billion euros and 4.15 billion euros in 2018. The company confirmed original expectation of a slight organic decline of -1% to -3% in EBITDA pre compared with the previous year.

The divestment of Consumer Health business will lower EBITDA pre of the Merck Group by between 170 million euros and 200 million euros, leading to EBITDA pre from continuing operations in a range of between 3.75 billion euros and 4.0 billion euros.

In Germany, Merck shares were trading at 82.74 euros, down 2.70 percent.

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