Teva Pharmaceuticals

(Nasdaq:TEVA) published its first quarter 2001 results today, presenting handsome growth in revenues and profits.

First-quarter profits rose 56% against the parallel to $54.8 million, as strong sales of its proprietary multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone drove results to the high end of Street estimates.

Earnings per fully-diluted share beat the average forecast by 3 cents, climbing 43% against the comparable quarter of 2000 to 40 cents.

Revenues climbed 46% against the comparable quarter of 2000 to $491 million. Almost 60% of Teva's sales were to North America, 24% were to Europe and 12% were to Israel.

Results of Novopharm were not included in the first quarter of 2000, because Teva only bought the company in April 2000. If Novopharm's contribution to the first quarter of 2001 is neutralized, Teva's sales still grew by 21%.

The company's gross profit soared 43% against the comparable quarter of 2000 to $197 million. Net profit grew even more, by 56% to $54.8 million, compared with $35.1 million in the first quarter of 2000.

Seen proportionate to sales, gross profit margins shrank from 40.8% in the first quarter of 2000, to 40.1% in the first quarter of 2001.

The higher 40.8% gross margin in last year's comparable quarter reflects the fact that Human, with its inherent low gross margins, was not yet consolidated, Teva explains.

Coverage of Copaxone

Worldwide sales of Copaxone continued to shoot up, rising 50% against the parallel to $74 million. This figure is $2 million below the sum predicted by Salomon Smith Barney analyst Robert Bonte-Friedheim, who last week downgraded Teva from Outperform to Neutral. But Teva's performance beat the $73 million forecast by Merrill Lynch analyst Paul Woodhouse.

North America accounted for 88% of the total sales of Copaxone in the first quarter of 2001. Copaxone achieved a share of 29.8% of the MS-treatments market, in terms of new prescriptions, compared with 23.9% in the parallel quarter of 2000.

"Our results reflect the successful implementation of our strategy of growth through acquisitions, internal product development and successful market penetration. We achieved both top and bottom line growth, trends which we expect will continue as the year progresses," stated COO Israel Makov.

Teva also revealed that its board is considering distributing a cash dividend for the first quarter of 2001, of 27 agorot per share, at a total cost of NIS 36 million.

"With a U.S. generic drug pipeline of 51 pending applications and our ongoing acquisition efforts, we are optimistic about our ability to continue Teva's strong growth," CEO Eli Hurvitz summed up the quarter.

With Business Wire