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CSL HY profit at $US1b-plus for first time

 

Vaccines and blood products supplier CSL's half-year net profit has surpassed $US1 billion for the first time, partly due to a big lift in sales of flu vaccines.

CSL has also lifted its full-year profit guidance and will pay shareholders a dividend of 79 US cents ($A1.005) per share, which the company says is the first time that a half-year dividend has exceeded one Australian dollar.

The company on Wednesday reported a 35 per cent increase in net profit for the six months to December 31 to $US1.09 billion ($A1.53 billion), boosted by robust demand for flu vaccines and specialist blood products used to treat various serious illnesses.

The company has increased its forecast net profit range for the full financial year to between $US1.55 billion to $US1.6 billion in constant currency terms, from the previous range of $US1.48 billion to $1.55 billion.

The upgraded forecast takes into account that the flu vaccines business will operate at a loss in the second half because vaccine sales are skewed towards the first six months, reflecting the influenza season in the northern hemisphere.

"We have announced a strong set of results for the year," CSL chief executive Paul Perreault said on Wednesday.

"For the first time in our history we reached over one billion (US) dollars in the first half."

Shares in CSL were $7.15, or 5.03 per cent, higher at $149.22 at 1131 AEDT.

CSL said sales of flu vaccines from its Seqirus business unit rose 43 per cent as output of cell-culture influenza vaccines produced at the Holly Springs facility in North Carolina in the US had increased fourfold to more than 20 million doses.

Cell culture vaccines are grown in cultured cells instead of hens' eggs, which has enabled CSL to scale up production of higher-value flu vaccines faster than its competitors.

Mr Perreault said more countries were seeking quadrivalent flu vaccines, such as those that CSL produces, which cover four strains of flu.

"But the big impact for this year has been the fourfold increase of doses coming out of our Holly Springs facility," he said, adding "that (cell culture vaccines) is also a high-value product."

CSL has also had its flu adjuvant Fluad, which helps boost the immune response to vaccination, approved in the UK.

The company said a strong uptake of its blood products Haegarda and Idelvion had also helped lift profit.

Haegarda, which was launched in the first half, is a treatment for patients with hereditary angioedema, a disorder characterised by swelling of the limbs, face and throat.

Idelvion is a treatment to control bleeding in patients with haemophilia B.

Mr Perreault said both products had proven to be more effective than other treatments and were easy to administer.

"To have a new unique product that has ease of administration and as well as high efficacy has just really impacted the community in these two diseases," Mr Perreault said.

CSL FIRST-HALF PROFIT PASSES $US1BN FOR FIRST TIME

* First-half net profit up 34.9pct at $US1.1b

* Interim revenue from continuing operations up 12.8pct at $US4.1b

* Unfranked interim dividend of US79 cents a share, up US15 cents