Bayer cuts forecasts on Monsanto delay as lawsuits pile
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[September 05, 2018]
By Ludwig Burger
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bayer cut its
earnings forecast on Wednesday due to delays to its $63 billion takeover
of Monsanto, and said sales of its consumer care products fell, hitting
its shares, already reeling from a legal battle over the weed killer
The weaker earnings forecast adds to a number of challenges facing the
German drugmaker as it braces for years of legal wrangling over the
alleged cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers.
Bayer said the number of plaintiffs seeking damages over Monsanto's
Roundup and Ranger Pro herbicides had risen to 8,700 from 8,000 from
last month, and said that it expected more to sue. It has vowed to
defend itself in court, citing regulators and studies as saying the
products are safe.
The inventor of aspirin and the maker of Yasmin birth control pills is
struggling to stem falling sales at its consumer health arm as U.S.
consumers switch from drugstores to online shops, and it faces
increasing pressure to strengthen its pharmaceutical division after a
string of setbacks.
The company lowered its forecast for adjusted core earnings per share
for the year to 5.70 - 5.90 euros, down from 6.64 in 2017, short of
analyst expectations, dragging the stock down as much as 3.7 percent in
The shares were down 1 percent at 1030 GMT, leading to a loss of about
16 percent since a U.S. jury's verdict on Aug. 10 for Monsanto to pay
close to $300 million in damages in the first of thousands of lawsuits
over alleged links between the Roundup weedkiller and cancer.
GRAPHIC: Bayer share price vs European sector index - https://reut.rs/2oGIzan
Second-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and
amortization (EBITDA), adjusted for one-off items, rose to 2.34 billion
euros ($2.71 billion), the company said on Wednesday, below an average
estimate for 2.44 billion in a Reuters poll of analysts. The company
blamed delays to the closure of its mammoth acquisition of Monsanto,
which meant it missed out on a typically stronger first-half than the
second for the seeds maker it agreed to buy in 2016.
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The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the Bayer Healthcare subgroup
production plant in Wuppertal, Germany February 24, 2014.
REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File Photo/File Photo
"It is clear that analysts have not appreciated the extent of this phasing
deviation," said analyst Alistair Campbell at brokerage Berenberg.
"Nevertheless, this will disappoint."
The addition of Monsanto will make Bayer as reliant on farming supplies as on
pharmaceuticals for earnings. It is in the midst of an overhaul of its drug
research and development activities that could result in job cuts as it faces
calls to beef up its development pipeline.
Quarterly adjusted EBITDA at the enlarged Crop Science division, now the world's
largest supplier of seeds and pesticides, almost doubled to a
better-than-expected 631 million euros, helped by a recovery in Brazil and as
Monsanto, part of Bayer since June 7, contributed 70 million.
But its consumer health business, which makes Claritin against allergies,
Coppertone sun screen and Dr. Scholl's foot care products, saw earnings fall by
18.5 percent as a weak U.S. dollar weighed on the value of overseas sales and as
customers continued to shop elsewhere for cheaper products.
Berenberg's Campbell said the "division remains highly problematic".
Bayer said it would still pay out a dividend per share for 2018 that was at
least at the year-earlier level, more than its dividend payout policy of 30 to
40 percent of core earnings per share would command.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Louise Heavens)
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