(Reuters) – Bayer aims to increase sales of its main healthcare division by an annual 6 percent until 2017, with growth prospects for new drugs such as stroke prevention pill Xarelto boosting shares in Germany’s largest drugmaker.
The company, which is splitting off its plastics business, has seen sales of recently launched drugs such as eye treatment Eylea outweigh declines at its birth-control and multiple sclerosis drug businesses which face tough competition.
Xarelto, part of a new class of blood thinning pills that require less blood testing than older products, had won a 32 percent share in the anticoagulant market, ahead of Boehringer’s Pradaxa and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Eliquis, Bayer said.
“The peak sales potential of around 3.5 billion euros still looks very, very doable,” said Bayer Chief Executive Marijn Dekkers, who plans to step down at the end of 2016.
The shares were up 2.7 percent at 1025 GMT, on course to close at a record high, having gained more than 20 percent so far this year as investors warm to the prospect of growing sales from new drugs.
Bayer, making presentations to investors in Berlin on Wednesday, added the healthcare unit would seek to increase its adjusted core profit margin to 29-31 percent, up from 27.5 percent last year.
Citi analyst Peter Verdult pointed to a “tempered margin outlook” for the prescription drugs unit within healthcare but added that was mainly a reflection of the increasing costs of research and development, keeping his “buy” recommendation.
CEO Dekkers cautioned he would be ready to accept a narrower margin if any promising new drugs call for higher spending on drug development.
“The better the pharmaceuticals pipeline develops, the more investment will be required for further clinical trials.”
The third and last phase of testing is by far the most expensive in pharmaceuticals development, and Bayer said it was pushing for a number of key compounds in Phase II to advance to the next stage by mid-2016.
The company also said its activities in blood glucose meters for diabetics, which sources have said was likely to be sold, has seen signs of stabilisation despite difficult market conditions. That business has 900 million euros in sales.
It had said in its annual report that the diabetes care market was set to weaken this year.
($1 = 0.9354 euros) By Ludwig Burger (Additional reporting by Daniela Pegna; Editing by Keith Weir)