* H1 profit rises 23 pct to A$617 mln, despite currency hit
* Swine flu vaccine helps offset drop in Gardasil royalties
* Sees year profit at upper end of 14-24 pct rise, constant
MELBOURNE, Feb 17 Australian biotherapies group
CSL Ltd (CSL.AX) stuck to its full year profit forecast after
reporting a 23 percent rise in first-half profit, which beat
broker forecasts despite a currency hit.
Its first-half profit was bolstered by sales of the H1N1
swine flu vaccine and seasonal flu vaccine sales to the United
States and Germany, which offset a drop in royalties from its
HPV cervical cancer vaccine.
CSL, which competes against Baxter Healthcare (BAX.N) and
Spain's Grifols (GRLS.MC), said it still expects a full year
profit between A$970 million and A$1.07 billion based on
current rates, or toward the upper end of a 14-24 percent rise
based on last year's exchange rates.
Analysts are expecting a flat profit this year, based on
their own currency assumptions, as the group has been buffeted
by a weaker U.S. dollar, with the bulk of its earnings from
In the second half it also faces shrinking demand for the
swine flu vaccine and falling royalties on its HPV cervical
cancer vaccine, sold as Gardasil by Merck & Co (MRK.N) and
Cervarix by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L).
A risk investors have yet to factor into CSL's shares stems
from an expanding class action brought by U.S. hospitals,
joined last week by the prestigious Mayo Clinic, against CSL
and Baxter, alleging that they colluded to control plasma
CSL has repeatedly said it believes there is no substance
to the allegations, first made last year by the U.S. Federal
Trade Commission when it blocked CSL's $3.1 billion bid for
smaller U.S. rival Talecris Biotherapeutics TLCR.O.
CSL Managing Director Brian McNameee said the group's
result in the first-half reflected a tough market.
"This is a pleasing result in what has been a competitive
trading environment," he said in a statement.
Net profit before one-offs rose to A$617 million ($556
million) for July-December from A$502 million a year earlier,
well ahead of analysts' forecasts of around A$526 million.
Gardasil sales fell A$66 million from a year earlier,
reflecting the end of an immunisation catch-up programme in
Australia. H1N1 flu vaccine sales contributed A$160 million.
CSL's shares have fallen 2.7 percent over the past six
months against a 5 percent gain in the broader market.
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)