Serono, Europe's biggest biotechnology company, slashed its 2001 profit forecast on Tuesday after releasing lower than expected sales growth for the third quarter.
The Geneva-based company says it now expects full-year profit growth to come in at between six to eight per cent rather than the 20 per cent forecast earlier. It said spending on its flagship multiple sclerosis treatment, Rebif, in the United States and lower interest rates had forced a rethink.
Serono reported a 13 per cent rise in third quarter sales to $295.4 million (SFr482.1 million), well below analysts' expectations. Excluding the exceptional gains in the third quarter of last year, net profit grew 20 per cent also below expectations.
The performance was driven by a 47 per cent increase in Rebif sales and a 13 per cent rise in sales of fertility drug, Gonal-F.
"We are pleased with our performance and the growth of our key products," said Serono chief executive, Ernesto Bertarelli,
Financial income, however, plunged to just $9.4 million from last year's figure of $20.1 million.
Concern about the company's earnings has seen Serono's shares fall around 10 per cent in the past week.
swissinfo with agencies
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