Cipla's Q3 profit hurt by one-off charge

An employee works at the reception area of Cipla at its headquarters in Mumbai, India June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s fifth-largest drugmaker, Cipla Ltd, said its quarterly profit fell below analysts’ expectations due to a one-off charge related to changes in the way it distributes drugs in its home market.

Cipla, which gets a majority of its sales from India, posted a net profit of 3.43 billion rupees ($50.58 million) for the quarter ended Dec. 31, slightly above the 3.28 billion reported a year earlier. Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 4.28 billion rupees.

Sales in India fell 0.4 percent, but were up stripping out the distribution related charge, Chief Executive Subhanu Saxena told reporters on Wednesday.

Cipla, which is less exposed than domestic rivals to the United States, said it will file up to four products for U.S. marketing approval each year as it sharpens its focus in the world’s largest healthcare market, Saxena said. The region makes up 8 percent of its total sales.

Cipla’s U.S. push comes at a time when rivals face slowing growth in that market, partly due to sanctions and warnings by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on their India factories due to poor quality control practices.

The FDA late last year cited a Cipla plant as well, in Indore in central India, for violations of manufacturing practices. Saxena said Cipla had responded to the FDA’s observations, which the company believes were “not significant”, and is confident would be resolved soon.

India, South Africa, and Yemen, are among about 15 markets that Cipla plans to improve focus on in the next few years, as it streamlines its business, Saxena said. In India, it plans to double its current sales by 2020, he said.

Shares in the company closed down 3 percent on Wednesday in Mumbai.

($1 = 67.82 rupees)

Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Mumbai; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi and Louise Heavens