* Targets 2.5 bln euros sales of 5 key drugs by 2015
* Sees mid single-digit pct gain in 2013 adj EBITDA
* Q4 adjusted EBITDA up 18.4 percent, in line f‘casts
* FY revenue 18.6 billion, up adjusted 5.3 percent
* Shares up 2.2 pct, hit all-time high (Recasts, adds drugs sales target, shares)
By Ludwig Burger and Frank Siebelt
FRANKFURT/LEVERKUSEN, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Bayer AG forecast annual sales of more than 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion) from its five key new drugs by 2015, signalling a speedier uptake than previously expected and sending its shares to a record high.
Giving its outlook for the coming three years, Germany’s largest drugmaker also confirmed on Thursday its five most important future cash generators, including stroke prevention pill Xarelto, should deliver longer-term peak annual sales of more than 5.5 billion euros.
“The fact that almost half of peak sales could be reached in three years already is remarkable,” said Bankhaus Metzler analyst Sebastian Frericks. “They are providing specific new targets. This commitment is well received.”
Bayer shares rose 2.2 percent to the top of Germany’s blue-chip index DAX at 0938 GMT. The stock hit a high of 76.33 euros, surpassing a previous peak of 76.20 set on Jan. 25 after Bank of America Merrill Lynch added the stock to its “Europe 1” list of preferred stocks.
Bayer, the inventor of Aspirin, said it expects its healthcare unit, with its prescription, over-the-counter and animal health drugs, to see sales grow by 6 percent per year to 22 billion euros by 2015, excluding currency swings and portfolio changes.
Revenue in 2012 was 18.6 billion, growing an adjusted 5.3 percent, the company said on Thursday.
Bayer’s pipeline of new treatments - which includes eye drug Eylea against the leading cause of blindness among the elderly - is the envy of many in the industry.
This has shored up its market valuation including net debt as a multiple of expected core earnings to 7.7 times, matching its healthcare peer group according to Thomson Reuters StarMine.
That is even though diversified groups like Bayer - also a maker of plastics and pesticides - usually trade at a discount to pure-play rivals.
Still, a strong rival for Bayer’s stroke prevention pill Xarelto has emerged in the form of Bristol Myers-Squibb and Pfizer’s Eliquis.
In addition, sales from its Yasmin/YAZ group of birth control pills, which still account for more than 1 billion euros in annual sales, are on the wane amid alleged side effects and cheap generic copies.
As a result, Bayer - which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year - was conservative compared with the market view when it came to its 2013 underlying earnings forecast.
It said it expected growth in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the mid single-digit percentage range, compared with analysts’ expectations of about 8 percent.
Fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA rose 18.4 percent, in line with the average estimate in a Reuters poll. Quarterly sales of 9.86 billion euros were slightly above expectations.
$1 = 0.7628 euros Editing by David Holmes