Bayer lifts 2012 outlook on pesticides, weak euro

FRANKFURT Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:45am EDT

The logo of Germany's largest drugmaker Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals is pictured on the front of its building in Berlin April 28, 2011. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The logo of Germany's largest drugmaker Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals is pictured on the front of its building in Berlin April 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's largest drugmaker Bayer (BAYGn.DE) on Tuesday raised its full-year earnings outlook much more than expected as high grain prices fuelled demand at its farming pesticides unit and a fallen euro lifted the value of the its overseas revenues.

The diversified company, which invented Aspirin and synthetic rubber, said it expected a high single-digit percentage gain in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), where it had previously seen a slight increase.

The new guidance went beyond the higher outlook that analysts had factored in and the company's shares were 3.6 percent ahead by 0829 GMT against a 0.4 percent rise in Germany's blue chip index .GDAXI.

"We expect (analysts') FY earnings estimates to be raised, which should further support positive confidence in the stock," Claudia Lakatos of Silvia Quandt Research said in a note to investors.

Bayer now expects revenue of 39-40 billion euros ($47.8-$49.0 billion) this year, compared with a prior outlook of about 37 billion, which was based on a euro value of $1.40. The currency has fallen below $1.23.

Second-quarter adjusted EBITDA rose 6.7 percent to 2.17 billion euros, above the average estimate of 2.08 billion in a Reuters poll, in part driven by a strong crop chemicals division, which is the world's second-largest maker of conventional pesticides after Syngenta (SYNN.VX).

Prices of crops such as soy, wheat and corn have risen between 30 and 50 percent in global markets since early June - just before the end of the quarter - mainly driven by supply shortages due to a severe drought in the United States.

Higher prices for crops encourage farmers to spend more on pesticides.

Syngenta last week posted forecast-beating results in the first half and was optimistic for the remainder of the year.

Bayer's reported net income, however, dropped by a third to 494 million euros as the company unexpectedly set aside 500 million euros for litigations in connection with its Yasmin/Yaz birth control pills.

U.S. health regulators in April added warnings to the labels on the popular class of birth control pills that includes Bayer's Yaz and Yasmin, to show they may raise the risk of blood clots.

Bayer said on Tuesday it has agreed to pay a combined $402.6 million to settle almost one third of about 6,000 legal claims that Yasmin caused blood clots.

Bayer's drugs division, where quarterly underlying core earnings rose 8 percent on growth in emerging markets, is pinning its hopes on drug launches to lift earnings in the coming years.

It has said its four most promising drugs, led by stroke prevention pill Xarelto, have the potential to rack up combined annual sales of more than 5 billion euros, although little of that will be seen in 2012.

($1 = 0.8168 euros)

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