UCB cost control offsets drug sales shortfall

BRUSSELS, July 30 Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:26am EDT

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BRUSSELS, July 30 (Reuters) - Belgian pharmaceutical company UCB maintained its 2014 outlook on Wednesday after reduced marketing and sales expenses resulted in higher core earnings, offsetting lower than expected sales of its newer drugs.

The company, which makes drugs targeted at diseases of the immune and central nervous systems, said recurring core profit for the first six months rose 29 percent to 391 million euros ($524.21 million).

The figure was well above the average 361 million euros expected in a Reuters poll of six analysts.

UCB said combined sales of newer drugs Cimzia, to treat bowel disorder Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis, epilepsy treatment Vimpat, for Parkinson's disease and restless leg syndrome, rose 25 percent.

It added that core profit had expanded despite the strong euro due to higher net drug sales and lower operating expenses.

UCB repeated its expectation for 2014 revenue of between 3.5 and 3.6 billion euros, recurring core profit (EBITDA) of 740-770 million euros and core earnings per share of 1.90-2.05 euros.

UCB said sales of Cimzia, one of three major new drugs launched in recent years, rose 30 percent to 353 million euros, in line with expectations.

Sales of Vimpat, increased by 17 percent to 217 million euros, below the market expectation of 229 million euros.

Sales of Neupro rose 27 percent to 102 million euros, against an expected 112 million euros.

Sales of older epilepsy drug Keppra, now facing generic competition, fell by 6 percent, in line with expectations.

UCB has a host of other older treatments such as for allergies and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which are off patent in Europe and North America. ($1 = 0.7459 Euros) (Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)

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