Ranbaxy Labs posts Q3 loss; avoids comment on Lipitor generic
REUTERS - Ranbaxy Laboratories, India's top drugmaker by sales, on Wednesday swung to a loss of 4.65 billion rupees ($93.97 million) in the September quarter hurt by foreign exchange transactions.
The drugmaker, majority owned by Japan's Daiichi Sankyo, however did not throw light on its much-anticipated U.S. launch of the generic version of Pfizer's $10-billion-a-year cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor.
Lipitor's patent protection expires Nov. 30, after which two new versions of the drug are expected to be sold by Ranbaxy and Watson Pharmaceuticals.
They are expected to be the only competitors for six months, after which a number of other copycats may enter the market.
Ranbaxy's smaller Indian rival Dr Reddy's Laboratories also has a U.S.-approved generic version of Lipitor.
Ranbaxy's scheduled launch of the world's top-selling drug has been clouded by speculation that regulatory troubles could derail its plans.
"We have no comments to offer (on the Lipitor launch)," a Ranbaxy spokesman told Reuters over the telephone.
"Ranbaxy continues to co-operate and negotiate with the U.S. FDA and the Department of Justice for a comprehensive settlement to address its regulatory issues," the Delhi-based drugmaker said in a statement.
As the Lipitor patent expiry nears, analysts are speculating that Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the world's biggest generic drugmaker, could be gearing up to sell its own copycat version of the blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug.
FOREX LOSS HURTS Q3 NUMBERS
The Delhi-based company's profitability in the fiscal third quarter was hurt by foreign exchange losses worth 6.51 billion rupees as it swung to loss from a consolidated net profit of 3.1 billion rupees year earlier.
The forex loss was owing largely to the requirement of mark-to-market long dated derivative transactions entered into by the company in earlier years and which remain currently outstanding as well as on the forex loans, it said.
The drugmaker's profit before interest expenses and foreign exchange losses stood at 1.97 billion rupees. A Reuters poll had forecast net profit of 1.68 billion rupees for the drugmaker.
Net sales rose to 20.23 billion rupees in the fiscal third quarter ended September from 18.77 billion rupees a year earlier.
Ranbaxy follows a January-December year.
"Ranbaxy's focus on long-term improvement of its base business and margins has begun to reflect in the company's performance," Arun Sawhney, chief executive and managing director, said in a statement.
"...this is resulting from an increased focus on strengthening manufacturing processes while re-aligning our products and markets for value creation."
Ranbaxy said sales in North America, its biggest market, grew to 4.72 billion rupees in July-September while Europe business grew 21 percent to 3.31 billion rupees.
"In future, all eyes are set on the launch of Lipitor and settlement of U.S. FDA issues. If this is resolved, that would be the only positive trigger for the stock," Sushant Dalmia, analyst at Pinc Research, said.
The company's India business grew slowly by 6.5 percent to 5.15 billion rupees in Sept-qtr as "therapy part of business was impacted by industry-wide slow-down in the anti-infective space," it said.
Shares in Ranbaxy Laboratories, which have fallen more than 20 percent year to date as compared to a 10.4 percent fall in the benchmark healthcare index, fell 4.37 percent on Wednesday to 475.10 rupees.
($1 = 49.48 rupees)
(Reporting by Kaustubh Kulkarni in MUMBAI; Editing by Subhadip Sircar)