Bayer (BAYRY) , the German drugs maker preparing to pay $66 billion for Monsanto (MON) , posted a 2.4% increase in third-quarter earnings per share and raised its full-year target on strong earnings from drugs and crop inputs.
But the results were not enough to resist Wednesday's wider fall in European markets, which dragged its shares down 1.2% to €90.41 ($98.61).
Leverkusen-based Bayer said third-quarter net profit was €1.19 billion, up 18.8% on the same period last year, on sales of €11.26 billion, up 2.3%. Earnings per share for the quarter were €1.73. That was ahead of the company-compiled analyst consensus of €1.66, and Bayer said that full year EPS would increase "by a high-single-digit percentage," up from its previous forecast of a mid-to-high-single-digit percentage.
"Current 2016 consensus (for EPS) stands at €7.36, implying growth of about 8%," noted Goldman Sachs on Wednesday. "We consider this a decent quarter, with the upgrade to 2016 guidance reflecting the underlying momentum in the pharma business."
Revenue from the drugs division was €4.15 billion, in line with analysts' expectations, while earnings of €1.42 billion were about 5% ahead of the consensus, driven by strong sales of prescription medicines including the recently launched stroke treatment Xarelto, which posted a 34% increase in sales, and eye treatment Eylea, up 26.5%.
Bayer in September raised expectations of stronger drug sales after upgrading annual average sales growth to 6% from the end of 2018 and claiming that peak revenue from six new drugs would top €10 billion, up from a previous forecast of €7.5 billion.
Bayer's crop sciences unit posted revenue of €2.06 billion, down just over 1% on the previous quarter and about 2% below the analyst consensus. The unit's Ebitda rose marginally to €318 million due to improved pricing and an €80 million boost from positive foreign exchange effects.
Crop science will likely become Bayer's biggest business following the acquisition of Monsanto, which is due to complete next year. The unit's flat performance won't ease concerns that Bayer is expanding into a struggling sector, using cash that might have been better spent growing the more profitable drugs operations.
Bayer's outlook for the two operations offered little evidence to change that view. "In light of the persistently weak market environment, Bayer continues to expect Crop Science sales to be on the prior-year level...equivalent to reported sales of about €10 billion," the company said. "Bayer continues to expect a low-single-digit percentage decrease in EBITDA before special items for this division."
Bayer said it will lodge applications for the Monsanto takeover with U.S. regulators before the end of the year and during the first quarter of next year in Europe. Bayer is offering $128 per Monsanto share, a 26% premium to Monsanto's Tuesday closing price of $101.40, reflecting investor skepticism that the deal will make it through an antitrust review.