Serono puts in solid second-quarter performance

The biotechnology group has raised its forecast for 2003 Keystone Archive

Europe’s largest biotechnology company, Serono, has reported strong second-quarter financial results, with profit up by 13.2 per cent to $107.7 million (SFr145.27 million).

This content was published on July 24, 2003 - 10:10

The Geneva-based company said total revenues, including income from licensing, had soared by 33.8 per cent to $508.4 million.

However, net income for the first six months totalled $167.9 million, just two per cent higher than for the comparable period last year. Sales were up by 31.7 per cent at $950.8 million.

The second quarter performance helped boost Serono's share price on Thursday by more than nine per cent. In mid-afternoon trading, it stood at SFr872 from Wednesday's close of SFr806.

Announcing its April - June figures, Serono also raised its forecast for the year as a whole.

“Given the solid performance of our business from top to bottom, we are raising our 2003 guidance to a target of 20 per cent revenue growth and 20 per cent net income growth on a reported basis,” commented chief financial officer Allan Shaw.

Serono had previously said it expected revenue and net profit to grow 15 to 20 per cent this year.

Dollar effect

The weakness of the US dollar in the second quarter resulted in a positive currency impact of SFr41.5 million on product sales, the company said in a statement.

“We’re not surprised it raised its guidance because of that enormous currency effect, coupled with a decent performance. We should see some nice sentiment in the stock,” commented analyst Marcel Brand at Crédit Agricole Indosuez Cheuvreux.

Product sales in the second quarter rose by a third to $467.4 million, with total sales from Serono’s key multiple sclerosis drug Rebif rising by more than 60 per cent to $199 million.

Sales in reproductive health therapies rose 9.7 per cent, with sales of Gonal-F, its second best selling product after Rebif, up 13 per cent to $139.5 million.

Serono chief executive Ernesto Bertarelli said the second-quarter result reflected the underlying strength of the company.

“We are very pleased with the growth in all parts of our business and are looking forward to strong performance in the second half of the year,” he commented.

swissinfo with agencies

Serono in brief

Serono made a net profit of $107.7 million in the second quarter, up 13.2 per cent.

The weakness of the dollar had a positive impact on the figures.

The company has raised its guidance for 2003 as a whole.

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Serono key facts

Serono focuses on the niche markets of reproductive health, neurology, growth and metabolism.
It has over 4,600 employees and sales in over 100 countries.
The company reported a net income of $320.8 million in 2002, with revenues of $1.55 billion.
CEO Ernesto Bertarelli was head of the syndicate behind Alinghi, the yacht that won the coveted America’s Cup earlier this year.

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