UPDATE 1-Hypermarcas aims to extend lead in Brazil drug market
(Adds executive's comment, detail on company outlook)
SAO PAULO, April 28 (Reuters) - Hypermarcas SA, the Brazilian drugmaker and consumer goods producer, hopes to extend the lead in pharmaceutical market sales that it won in March, executives said on a Monday.
The drugmaker has been winning ground in the South American country by spending more on marketing, as others back off in the face of weaker demand and a shakier economic outlook.
Company officials, who spoke on a conference call about financial results reported on Friday, were vague about Hypermarcas's actual sales growth targets.
But Chief Executive Officer Claudio Bergamo said 10 percent was the average annual growth rate for sales in the markets in which Hympermarcas competes, and his goal was to exceed that rate by "a few percentage points."
Hypermarcas produces medicine and disposable consumer goods ranging from diapers and skin cream to condoms and nail polish.
If earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization remain stable this year as a share of revenue, that would be considered "a win," executives said, highlighting the difficulty of raising prices again after an April price hike.
Consumer prices in Brazil have risen more than 6 percent in the past 12 months, eroding workers' paychecks and weighing on demand from increasingly indebted households.
Hypermarcas shares rose as much as 1.7 percent in midday Monday trading after dropping 1.3 percent early in the session.
First-quarter profit fell 12 percent from a year earlier, Hypermarcas reported on Friday, as its bond buybacks and currency hedging more than doubled.
Any extra cash this year will be used to further cut debt, executives said, adding that part of the company's 200 million reais ($89 million) of non-operational assets are up for sale.
($1 = 2.24 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Brad Haynes and Marcela Ayres; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Tom Brown)