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CSL first half profit up 11% to $1.86bn

Steven Deare and Derek Rose
CSL has upgraded its full year profit guidance after recording an 11% leap in first half net profit

Biotech giant CSL has reported an 11 per cent leap in first half net profit to $US1.25 billion ($A1.86 billion) and upgraded its full year profit guidance.

The blood products manufacturer now expects $US2.1 billion to $US2.17 billion ($A3.1 billion to $A3.2 billion) in full year profit, up 10 per cent to 13 per cent on fiscal 2019.

Sales revenue on a constant currency basis was up 10 per cent to $US4.7 billion ($A7.1 billion) in the six months to December 31, compared to the same period in 2018.

CSL shares, which have been on a strong run since the start of the year, were up 0.9 per cent to $328.80 at 1215 AEDT in volatile trading.

Growth in CSL's immunoglobulin products, haemophilia therapies and influenza vaccines were the key contributors to its profit increase.

"Our results reflect the focused execution of our strategy, robust demand for our differentiated medicines and a deep, inherent passion for meeting the evolving needs of our patients," said CSL chief executive and managing director Paul Perreault.

CSL's best-selling products, the human plasma-derived antibody therapies Privigen and Hizentra, performed exceptionally well, with sales up 28 and 37 per cent, he said.

CSL had $US1.98 billion ($A2.96 billion) in sales of the two immunoglobulin therapies, which are used to treat chronic conditions including primary immunodeficiency disorders and the rare autoimmune disorder known as CIPD (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy).

There is strong patient demand but competitors are having supply challenges, while CSL has opened 20 more plasma collection centres in the United States in the first half and is on track to open another 20 this half-year, the company said.

Sales of its haemophilia therapies were up four per cent to $US550 million ($A819 million) while revenue from its seasonal influenza vaccines rose 16 per cent to $US 862 million ($A1.3 billion).

Its adjuvanted flu vaccine qQIV, which protects against four strains of influenza, will launch in Australia this year.

Sales of its therapies to treat low levels of the blood protein albumin dipped by a third as CSL transitioned to a direct distribution model in China.

Mr Perreault said the Wuhan coronavirus was mostly outside CSL's area of expertise but the company was lending its technology to the University of Queensland, which has launched an effort to find a vaccine.

"We see this as a humanitarian effort, not a commercial effort," he said.

Shareholders will receive a dividend of 95 US cents per share, unfranked, up from 85 US cents a year ago.

CSL'S STRONG HALF YEAR

* Revenue up 10pct to $US 4.7 billion ($A7.1 billion) on a constant currency basis.

* Net profit up 11.3 pct to $US1.3 billion ($A1.8 billion), on a constant currency basis.

* Interim dividend up 10 US cents to 95 US cents