Bayer profit lifted by Monsanto, consumer health

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the Bayer Healthcare subgroup production plant in Wuppertal, Germany February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD

LEVERKUSEN, Germany (Reuters) – Bayer’s adjusted core earnings rose 15.8 percent in the fourth quarter, boosted by the addition of U.S. seeds maker Monsanto and on cost cuts at its consumer healthcare business.

Fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to 2.07 billion euros ($2.36 billion), the maker of pharmaceuticals and farming pesticides said on Wednesday, beating the average analyst projection of 2.0 billion euros.

Previously announced write-downs on the value of consumer health brands and one-off charges from the closure of a German hemophilia drug plant led to a quarterly net loss of 3.9 billion euros.

Adjusted EBITDA at its non-prescription consumer products unit, which plans to shed the Coppertone sunscreen and Dr. Scholl’s footcare brands, rose 11 percent to 279 million euros in the quarter, on 4.9 percent lower sales, as it reined in costs.

Bayer, which wrapped up the $63 billion Monsanto purchase in June, has not yet been able to show the new business’s pulling power as about 80 percent of its earnings are generated during the January-to-June period.

Fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA of the enlarged agriculture division jumped 79 percent to a better-than-expected 543 million euros.

Meanwhile, litigation risks are piling up. The number of plaintiffs seeking damages for an alleged role of Monsanto’s popular weedkiller Roundup in their cancer jumped to 11,200 from 9,300.

The German company, which says scientists and regulators across the globe have found the product to be safe, faces a second U.S. jury, following an initial verdict in California state court that was reduced to $78 million in damages.

($1 = 0.8790 euros)

Editing by Thomas Seythal and Louise Heavens

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