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Healthcare

UPDATE 1-Ranbaxy posts profit in Q4, eyes growth in 2010

* Sees 2010 net profit up 48 pct at 4.6 billion rupees

* Dec quarter consolidated net profit 2.6 billion rupees

* Shares end up 0.5 percent in flat Mumbai market

(Adds detail)

By Sanjeev Choudhary

NEW DELHI, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Indian drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories RANB.BO swung to a quarterly profit, helped by launching its own copy of a blockbuster drug in the U.S., and forecast strong growth this year from new products.

India’s top drugmaker by sales forecast a rise of 48 percent in net profit in 2010 to 4.6 billion rupees and a growth of 6 percent in sales to 78 billion. It posted a profit of 3.1 billion rupees last year, after a loss of 9.3 billion in 2008.

Global demand for generic drugs from makers such as Ranbaxy and rivals Dr Reddy's Laboratories REDY.BO, and Cipla CIPL.BO is booming as nations battle rising healthcare costs.

The boom in Indian generics has lured Western drugmakers wanting to raise exposure to emerging markets where a burgeoning middle class wants the assurance of cheap, safe drugs.

But recent warnings by U.S. regulatory authorities to Indian drugmakers for what it said was violation of good manufacturing practice are a concern for the sector.

In December, Ranbaxy said its wholly owned U.S.-based unit Ohm Laboratories Inc had received such a warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). [ID:nSGE5BN09Z]

Ranbaxy, 64 percent owned by Japan's Daiichi Sankyo 4568.T, on Thursday reported consolidated net profit of 2.62 billion rupees ($57 million) for the three months to December, compared with a net loss of 6.8 billion rupees a year earlier.

A Reuters survey of nine brokerages expected the company to post net profit of 3.01 billion rupees for the quarter.

The company’s standalone net profit for the quarter was 4.88 billion rupees.

Ranbaxy said in November it had exclusively launched a generic version of GlaxoSmithKline's GSK.L blockbuster Valtrex, a drug used to treat herpes, in the United States.

Ranbaxy had incurred losses in three consecutive quarters to March hit by currency fluctuations and a U.S. ban on some products. It swung back to profit in the June quarter.

Shares in Ranbaxy ended up 0.5 percent at 454.05 rupees in a flat Mumbai market. ($1=46.3 rupees) (Writing by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Surojit Gupta/Will Waterman)

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