July 31, 2013 / 5:48 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-UCB earnings hit by higher research expenses

* H1 core profit 319 mln euros vs 325 million expected

* Vimpat sales 185 mln vs 193 mln expected

* Keeps 2013 outlook (Adds details on products sales)

BRUSSELS, July 31 (Reuters) - Belgian pharmaceutical group UCB reported first half core profit below expectations due to lower-than-expected sales of epilepsy drug Vimpat and higher research expenses.

Recurring core profit for the first half of 2013 fell 12 percent to 319 million euros ($422.7 million) just below the 325 million euros expected in a Reuters poll of eight analysts.

UCB said research and development expenses rose 5 percent on a like-for-like basis due to several drug trials being at an advanced and more costly stage.

Vimpat, one of the main pillars of the group’s product portfolio, made sales of 185 million euros compared to the 193 million expected in a Reuters poll of eight analysts.

Allergy drug Xyzal also saw a sharper than expected fall in sales due to generic competition, especially in Japan where sales were down 65 percent.

By contrast, epilepsy drug Keppra, formerly the group’s main earner which is now facing competition from generic drugs, sold more than expected as it grew sales in emerging markets and maintained stable sales in North America.

UCB repeated its expectations for 2013 revenues of about 3.4 billion euros and a recurring core profit between 680 to 710 million euros. ($1 = 0.7547 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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