Vaccine enterprise helps Lonza carry 2021 gross sales outlook By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The emblem of Swiss contract drug maker Lonza is seen at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

By John Revill

ZURICH (Reuters) -Swiss contract drugmaker Lonza raised its 2021 outlook on Friday after booming enterprise making elements for COVID-19 vaccines and robust progress elsewhere helped it beat analysts’ expectations throughout the first half of the 12 months.

The corporate, which has intensified agreements with vaccine producer Moderna (NASDAQ:), stated gross sales to the U.S. firm had exceeded expectations, though it was additionally seeing a broad-based enchancment in gross sales of non-coronavirus associated merchandise.

“Within the prior 12 months we supplied an estimate for the way a lot we anticipated from Moderna gross sales for 2021…the quantity is far greater given our skill to extend output at our present services,” Chief Monetary Officer Rodolfo Savitzky instructed reporters.

Following a 13.3% enhance in gross sales throughout the first half of 2021, the Basel firm stated it now expects gross sales to extend in fixed alternate charges in direction of the mid-teens share degree this 12 months.

Its earlier steerage had been for gross sales progress within the low double-digit vary.

Savitsky stated though the elevated gross sales of COVID-19 associated merchandise performed a task within the improve, their impression shouldn’t be overstated.

“Covid (merchandise) nonetheless symbolize a comparatively small a part of our total gross sales,” he stated. “It has an impression, however we see robust momentum throughout the entire portfolio.”

For the primary half of the 12 months, Lonza posted gross sales of two.54 billion Swiss francs ($2.76 billion), beating analysts’ forecasts for two.47 billion francs.

Core earnings earlier than curiosity, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 13% to 847 million francs, additionally beating the 787 million francs forecast in a company-gathered ballot of analysts.

“All in all, a superb set of figures,” stated Financial institution Vontobel analyst Sibylle Bischofberger.

Lonza shares, which have outpaced the blue-chip Swiss Market Index by rising 19.4% in 2021, gained 2.1% in early buying and selling.

The corporate is responding to rising demand by rising its capital expenditure to 474 million francs within the first half of the 12 months.

Extra spending was to return within the second half of the 12 months, speaking the 2021 capex degree to 25% of gross sales, up from the standard degree of round 20%.

Among the many investments has been the addition of three further manufacturing strains on the firm’s plant in Visp, Switzerland, whereas one other line has been added at its web site at Geleen within the Netherlands.

Lonza has additionally employed 1,000 extra employees within the first half of the 12 months, and deliberate to tackle one other 2,000 within the second half to sort out manufacturing log-jams.

“We’ve got stable progress,” stated Chief Govt Pierre-Alain Ruffieux stated “We’d like to have the ability to fulfill our obligations in manufacturing.”

($1 = 0.9200 Swiss francs)

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