UCB Group: confirmed increase of 2% in net results
25th March, 2004 - The Board of Directors proposes to distribute a gross dividend in increase by 2.5% compared to 2002.
At its meeting on the 25 March 2004, the Board of Directors approved the accounts for the 2003 financial year, which will be submitted for approval to the Shareholders' Meeting(*):
The past year showed an ordinary profit before tax of € 483 million, a 2% decrease compared to 2002, which was a record year. At constant exchange rates, the ordinary result grew by 16%.
In 2003, the Pharma Sector achieved an excellent performance in both therapeutic areas.
Neurology, which represents 1/3 of sales, is the main growth engine. Available in 46 countries, Keppra owes its success mainly to its remarkable efficacy, its broad spectrum of action, its ease of use and its outstanding safety. Keppra's global sales increased by 55% at constant exchange rate and the drug has become a world leader in the epilepsy.
In Allergy, Xyzal has practically tripled its sales in Europe and Zyrtec has grown by 20% in US dollar on the American market.
The ordinary profit for the Sector has decreased from € 440 million in 2002 to € 402 million in 2003. At constant exchange rates, these results increased by 10%.
Surface Specialities positions itself as a world leader in environmentally-friendly resins for the coatings and graphic arts industry. The process of integrating the acquired businesses (resins, additives and adhesives) is progressing well, in line with the implementation plan.
The ordinary profit is increasing by 94%, due, among others, to the activities acquired from Solutia.
The Film business regains its profitability and is pursuing its objective of reducing costs, improving productivity and exploiting synergies.
Research and Development expenses for the Group have increased to € 270 millions, as opposed to € 262 millions in 2002. Investments have increased from € 164 million to € 654 million, which includes € 514 million dedicated to the acquisition of Solutia specialities in 2003.
Prospects for 2004
UCB is very confident that its 2004 results will show a favourable trend (excluding exchange rate effects). Within the Pharma Sector, Keppra, which continues to receive a very favourable welcome from the medical profession, will pursue its growth in the United States, in Europe and in the other countries where it is registered. Xyzal should double its sales in Europe and Zyrtec continue its growth with our partner Pfizer in the U.S. Over and above the anticipated improvement in demand, Surface Specialties will benefit from the synergies resulting from the integration of its acquired businesses.
The net profit of UCB S.A. amounted to € 294 million in 2003. The Board of Directors recommends distributing a gross dividend of € 120 million, compared to € 117 million in 2002. Shareholders would receive, on the 8 June 2004, a net dividend of € 0.615 per share compared with a € 0.60 last year, an increase of 2.5%.
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