Pandemic curbs demand for Bayer’s medicines

Bayer

Bayer AG said the pandemic crimped its outlook as demand for some of its medicines declines and the company anticipates that U.S. farmers will need fewer seeds and herbicides when they start planting.

Core earnings per share will probably be between 6.70 euros ($7.89) and 6.90 euros this year when taking the coronavirus outbreak into account, Bayer said Tuesday. An earlier forecast whose range was 30 cents higher excluded the health crisis’s impact.

Bayer shares dropped as much as 3.9% on the lower outlook. The stock has slumped in the past six weeks amid concern that the company’s settlement hasn’t entirely resolved the Roundup weedkiller litigation.

The Leverkusen, Germany-based company, which got Roundup with its purchase of Monsanto, remains “strongly committed” to reaching deals that bring existing lawsuits to a conclusion and take care of the risk of future litigation on the matter, Bayer said.

The slowdown in surgeries and other non-essential medical procedures hurt some products in Bayer’s pharma division in recent months. Sales fell for the blockbuster eye treatment Eylea while revenue for top-selling blood thinner Xarelto only grew at half the pace of last year. There could be relief there in coming months as medical systems around the world learn to cope with coronavirus patients while also handling more routine matters.

Bayer now expects sales of 43 billion euros to 44 billion euros this year, a range that’s 1 billion euros lower than the previous target. The outlook is lower than most analysts had expected, according to Markus Mayer, an analyst at Baader Bank.

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