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Only 6 drug majors post better results

February 05, 2009 12:16 IST

Only six of the top 25 drug companies, which include Dr Reddy's Lab, Sun Pharma and Zydus Cadila, could post better net profit in the December quarter in comparison to the corresponding previous quarter, while six leading drug makers posted net losses.

In a continuing trend for the previous two quarters, foreign currency fluctuations and mark-to- market losses are affecting profits of India's drug makers, despite increase in net sales ranging between 4.5 and 42 per cent for most of the firms during the three-month period.

While, net profit was down for nine prominent firms such as Glenmark, Cipla, Lupin and Piramal Healthcare, six companies, which include heavy weights such as Ranbaxy, Jubilant, Matrix, Panacea Biotec, Shasun and Orchid, fell into the red in the quarter ended December 2008. Major companies such as Wockhardt, Glaxosmithkline,

Aventis Pharma and Strides Arcolab are yet to announce their results for the quarter.

"The domestic market continues to grow and those who have long-term supply contracts and product pipeline in the US and Europe will not suffer in the near or long term future. The business and future prospects for companies vary on a case to case basis, based on contracts and products they have committed," said Hitesh Gajaria, executive director, KPMG India.

"The worst (due to forex losses) should be over for most companies and on a broader basis, the top line should grow by 15-20 per cent for all the companies in the coming quarter," said Sarabjit Kaur Nagra, vice-president, research, Angel Broking.

The worst performer for the quarter was Ranbaxy Laboratories, which posted a consolidated net loss of Rs 915 crore as against a net profit of Rs 787 crore (Rs 7.87 billion) in the previous year. The company incurred a loss of Rs 353 crore (Rs 3.53 billion) in the previous quarter and a flat Rs 161 crore (Rs 1.61 billion) net profit in the second quarter.

However, Ranbaxy maintained its position as the largest drug company in India with an annual sales turnover of Rs 7,251 crore (Rs 72.51 billion) and a growth of 8 per cent over the previous year.

However, Dr Reddy's Lab, the second-largest domestic drug maker in terms of sales, bounced back with 156 per cent jump in net profit and 50.5 per cent jump in revenue for the third quarter.

This was mainly due to exclusive gains from the launch of an authorised generic version of GlaxoSmithKline's Imitrex (Sumatriptan Succinate) in the US since November, based on an out-of-court settlement. Its net profit was down by 52 per cent and 26 per cent respectively in the previous two quarters.

Affected by forex losses, Cipla, the third-largest Indian drug company, had a moderate 6.1 per cent jump in net profit, whereas its net profits were down by 21 per cent in the previous quarter and 17 per cent in the first quarter of 2008-09.

The company had to account for Rs 42 crore (Rs 420 million) as loss for the quarter on revaluation of forward contracts, outstanding debtors and foreign currency loans, which was Rs 104.50 crore (Rs 1.04 billion) and Rs 75 crore (Rs 750 million) respectively in the previous two quarters.

"In this changing market, those who innovate and focus on speciality products and add value to their business by judicious investments in marketing strategies will gain. The companies will have to re-invent their business models to sustain growth in future," said Dr R B Smarta, managing director of Interlink Marketing Consultancy.

Sun Pharma's net profit was up only 28 per cent for the quarter, compared with 135 per cent and 121 per cent in the immediate previous quarters. Though its international revenues grew well, the performance of its US subsidiary Caraco was subdued for the quarter due to slowdown in the US.

While Piramal Healthcare and Lupin had a lacklustre performance for the quarter as against fairly good numbers in earlier quarters, Hyderabad-based Aurobindo recovered to post profits, compared with Rs 38.42 crore (Rs 384.2 million) in Q2 2008-09.

Glenmark, which is now facing the issue of lack of additional income from drug outlicensing deals, had its net profit down by 71 per cent, compared with 56 per cent and 102 per cent growth in net profits in the previous quarters.

However, the problems of companies such as Jubilant, Orchid, Shasun, Matrix and Panacea are continuing. Jubilant, which went in for a couple of costly acquisitions in the US in the recent years, posted a Rs 88 crore (Rs 880 million) loss for the quarter, mainly triggered by a forex loss of Rs 131 crore (Rs 1.31 billion).

The company had losses of Rs 62.37 crore (Rs 623.7 million) in the previous quarter and its net was down to just Rs 12.76 crore or Rs 127.6 million (Rs 142.86 crore or Rs 1.42 billion in previous year quarter in the first quarter of 2008-09).

Chennai-based Orchid is facing competition for its cephalosporin products in the US and could not post either higher sales or profits.

Forex losses are pressurising Chennai-based Shasun, which posted a net loss of Rs 19.

P B Jayaumar in Mumbai