* Targets sales at $31 bln, net income at $6.8 bln
* Expects to reduce dependence on Copaxone
* Shares close down 0.6 percent on Nasdaq (Adds details from meeting)
By Lewis Krauskopf
NEW YORK, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (TEVA.TA), the world’s largest generic drugmaker, on Thursday set a target of revenue of $31 billion in 2015, more than double its current annual amount as it sees major growth in overall use of generics.
The Israel-based company also sees its more profitable branded business more than doubling over that time, as it reduces its dependence on its biggest-selling drug, the Copaxone multiple sclerosis treatment.
Teva TEVA.O also projected net income of $6.8 billion in 2015. The company is expected to report net income for 2009 of nearly $3 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
As part of its forecasts, given during its investor event in New York, Teva projected the global market for generics would grow to $135 billion to $150 billion by 2015, from around $80 billion today.
Among factors driving the overall growth are more opportunities in countries where generics account for a small amount of drug sales, greater government reforms emphasizing cost savings and the $150 billion worth of brand name drugs losing patent protection in the next five years.
One-third of Teva’s sales growth by 2015 is expected to come from acquisitions by the company, which has a long history of making purchases to grow its business.
Teva also targeted growing its market-leading share of the U.S. generics market to 35 percent by 2015, up from an estimated 22 percent.
Teva held its meeting, which was broadcast over the Internet, to give Wall Street a strategic update and its view of the business through 2015.
Teva and other generic drugmakers have posted strong share price gains and outperformance over the past year, lifted by optimism that U.S. health reform efforts will lead to more use of lower-cost generics and by bullish forecasts for 2010.
In 2010, Teva has said it is expecting earnings per share growth of around 35 percent. Spurring the increase is the launch of a generic version of Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) blockbuster anti-depressant Effexor XR and better economics for Copaxone, including reduced royalties to Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA).
Fueled by acquisitions, Israel-based Teva has become the dominant player in the generic drug industry. Its latest major deal was the $7.5 billion purchase of rival generic drugmaker Barr Pharmaceuticals, completed in December 2008.
But Teva’s biggest product is a brand-name drug, Copaxone, and investors have been concerned about the ability of Teva to protect the medicine from competition.
On Thursday, Teva executives said they believed a pure generic version of Copaxone was unlikely and that any company making a follow-up version of the drug would need to conduct significant studies.
“We believe any follow on to Copaxone will require comprehensive clinical trials,” Chief Executive Shlomo Yanai said.
In the nearer term, Teva projected 2012 earnings of $5.30 to $5.86 per share on revenue of $21 billion to $23.2 billion. Analysts on average had expected $5.49 a share for 2012.
Teva shares have risen about 34 percent since the start of 2009, outperforming the 13 percent increase for the NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical index .DRG of large drugmakers, but a smaller rise than for U.S. generic rivals Mylan Inc (MYL.O) and Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc WPI.N.
Teva’s U.S. shares closed down 36 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $56.84 on Nasdaq.
Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Richard Chang