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UCB Group : 2003 first half-year result

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UCB Group : 2003 first half-year result
UCB: Exchange rate variances negatively affect Group current result
  • The UCB Group achieved a consolidated turnover for the first six months of 2003 of € 1,512 million, including the positive impact of the acquisition of Solutia and the negative impact of exchange rates. This results in an increase of 14%, compared to the same period last year.

  • UCB confirms a stability of current profit at constant exchange rates compared to the record year 2002.

  • Net profit after tax reduced by 25 % influenced by exceptional provisions for restructuration of Surface Specialties.
UCB Group (*) First Half-YearDifferences
(in million Euros)20022003 At constant exch. rates
Pharma Sector780739
Surface Specialties 545773
- of which Films202186
Operating Profits (EBIT)277234
Financial charges- 11- 6
Ordinary profits266228- 14%+0%
Pharma Sector242193
Surface Specialties 2031
- of which Films- 10-
Exceptional- 3- 31
Taxation- 81- 61
Net profit after tax182136- 25%

(*) Unaudited figures

Pharma Sector

In the Pharma Sector, turnover reached for the first six months € 739 million, a decrease of 5%, compared to the same period last year; at constant exchange rates it would have been an increase of 5%.

In allergy/asthma, Zyrtec remains the most sold anti-allergic drug in the world.

In the USA, Zyrtec sales, expressed in USD, have shown a sharp increase of 21% to $ 633 million notwithstanding a significant decrease of the overall prescription market for oral antihistamine as a result of the move of one important drug to the non-prescription market. Zyrtec market share in value has increased from 23% to 32%.

In Japan, Zyrtec sales have increased by 6% in Yen. Its market share has gone from 17% to 15% due to increased competition.

In Europe, UCB Zyrtec sales for the first half-year amounted to € 125 million down € 38 million due to generic competition while Xyzal more than doubled to € 21 million resulting in a net decrease of the UCB allergy franchise of € 17 million. UCB's market share in allergy (major five countries) went down from 35% to 30%.

For the next six months, we expect that Zyrtec will remain strong in the United States (expressed in local currency). In Europe, we aim at a stabilization of our franchise thanks to a slower decrease in Zyrtec and a continued growth in Xyzal, helped by the recent launch in France and Spain, which are showing very encouraging results.

In neurology, Keppra turnover reached € 135 million during the first six months of the year, an increase of 43% compared to the first six months of last year. US turnover shows an increase of 66% in USD (USD 99 million). Keppra is today the first choice in add-on therapy among new generation anti-epileptic drugs in the US. In Europe, the increase was 61% (€ 45 million).

The solid growth of Keppra over the first six months should be confirmed for the rest of the year.

The current result of the Pharma Sector amount to € 193 million, a 20% decrease compared to the same period last year. The main elements having a negative impact on the current result can be summarised as follows:

  • Decrease of Zyrtec sales in Europe;
  • Unfavourable net exchange variances amounting to € 37 million;
    the difference in average exchange rate between first semester 2002 and 2003 represents 23% for the USD and 13% for the Yen;
  • An amount (€ 23 million) for the compensation of the cancellation of the Ditropan XL (Alza) agreement booked during the first half of last year not repeated in 2003.

In R&D, of which expenses for the first half year are € 12 million higher, the drug discovery process is being actively pursued.
In development the major effort with respect to registered drugs is being dedicated to Keppra with epilepsy development programs aimed at paediatrics, generalized seizures and monotherapy as well as a number of trials outside epilepsy. In allergy, based on trial results confirming the potential of Xyzal, UCB is committed to undertake new studies to fully exploit the benefit of the drug in the respiratory market.

As planned, UCB will have two compounds in Phase II in 2003:

  • ucb 35440: dual compound combining anti-leukotriene and anti-histamine properties, intended for the treatment of asthma.
  • ucb 34714 : a new compound related to neurological diseases with Phase II trials in epilepsy and in parallel, other neurological indications.

Additionally, we plan to enter two new compounds in clinical development in 2004, in the allergy and neurology fields.

Surface Specialties

Surface Specialties increased its turnover by 42% to € 773 million; this figure is negatively affected by € 67 million mostly due to the dollar depreciation. The turnover of the acquired Solutia activities amounted to € 262 million.

The integration of UCB's chemicals and film activities as well as Solutia's specialties proceeds according to forecast and meets our expectations. The new structure is now in place. It comprises the following business units (% of turnover):

  • Coating Resins & Additives (59%)
  • Films & Adhesives (32%)
  • Technical Resins (9%)

In addition, Taminco (regrouping the activities of methylamines and its derivatives) realised for the first six months of the year a turnover of
€ 96 million. UCB confirms its intention to sell these activities, which are not in line with Surface Specialties technologies.

For the first semester, the volumes remain good (especially in the Radcure product range: + 27%) but margins have suffered from an increase in certain raw material costs and price pressure on the market. Films confirm break-even due, amongst others, to cost cutting efforts.

Current result of Surface Specialties has increased by 55% from € 20 million to € 31 million with the inclusion of Solutia and Films and a goodwill amortization related to the Solutia acquisition of € 2.1 million. The objective for the full year for Surface Specialties is to more than double the results of the first semester. UCB remains very confident in its ability to generate synergies in tens of millions of euro in the coming years.

Exceptional results amounting to € 31 million include a provision for 2003 of € 17 million for restructuration of Surface Specialties and € 8 million writedown on UCB shares held.

The total headcount for the Group has reached 12,336 people compared to 10,326 at the end of last year.

The total profits of UCB S.A., after taxation, amounted to € 232 million, a decrease of 6%, compared to those of the previous year.

Based on foreseen circumstances, we expect the Group's current result, at constant exchange rates, to be of the same order compared to 2002.

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