* Q1 net profit up 8.8 pct, above forecasts
* Reiterates guidance for single-digit growth in 2009
* Maintains dividend pay-out of 35-40 pct
* Shares up 5.8 pct
(Adds detail, analyst comments, share price)
MADRID, May 13 (Reuters) - Spanish pharmaceutical company Almirall (ALM.MC) reiterated guidance for single-digit growth in 2009 profit, revenues and core earnings on Wednesday after an 8.8 percent rise in first-quarter net profit.
Recurring net profit reached 49.5 million euros in the three months to March, just above the 48.3 million forecast in a Reuters survey of five analysts.
First-quarter sales rose 2.8 percent to 245 million euros, in line with forecasts and buoyed by licensing agreements and a strong performance from allergy drug ebastine, as well as strength from its international business.
At 0855 GMT, Almirall shares were up 5.8 percent at 7.88 euros, one of Spain’s best performers.
“Overall, there was a positive performance from its key drugs and licensing deals and the company looks on track to meeting its full-year guidance,” Caja Madrid analyst Ana Gonzalez said.
Almirall named partnering agreements, in-licensing opportunities and selective acquisitions as its main priorities for 2009 to fuel future growth, and said it would continue to enjoy tax incentives on R&D in Spain beyond 2012.
The single-digit tax rate on R&D was due to end in 2012, when Citigroup analysts said it had forecast taxes to approach the standard corporate rate of 28 percent.
Analysts will be looking for further guidance on the tax credits and growth objectives at a conference call at 1300 GMT. Focus will also be on cost guidance following recent setbacks for Almirall’s aclidinium bromide lung drug.
Net debt totalled 119 million euros at March 31, while operating cash flow reached 50 million.
Almirall will maintain the percentage of earnings paid in dividends at between 35 percent and 40 percent in 2009, it said.
Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Simon Jessop