(Adds executive's comment, detail on company outlook)
SAO PAULO, April 28 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)