Agriculture and healthcare company Bayer said operating earnings would likely decline in 2023, hurt by higher costs and the reversal of last year’s price boost for its glyphosate-based weedkillers.
The downbeat outlook, which triggered a 1% fall in the stock in premarket trade, comes after a new chief executive was appointed to take over in June, sparking speculation the company might prepare to break up.
In a statement on Tuesday, Bayer said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), adjusted for special items, would likely be between 12.5 billion euros and 13 billion euros ($13.23 billion – $13.78 billion) this year, excluding the effect of currency swings.
That would be a decline from the 13.5 billion reported for 2022, which was up 20.9% from a year earlier and slightly higher than analysts had expected on average, according to a consensus posted on the company’s website.
Chief Executive Werner Baumann, who is scheduled to quit at the end of May, said the company is active in the right areas of business.
“Health and nutrition are fundamental human needs,” he said.
Bayer said this month it would replace its CEO early, recruiting the former head of Roche’s pharmaceuticals business, Bill Anderson, amid demands by some investors that Bayer should simplify its diversified structure and split into separate groups.
Bayer, which acquired glyphosate products as part of its 2018 takeover of Monsanto, saw herbicide sales jump 44% in 2022 after hurricane Ida damaged rival producers and constrained Chinese suppliers were not able to make up for the gap.
For 2023, “the company anticipates lower prices for agricultural herbicides as well as for some of its established pharmaceutical products,” Bayer said, adding it also expected high inflation to drive cost increases.
A spokesperson said that, among established drugs, stroke prevention pill Xarelto – the group’s pharmaceutical bestseller – would be hit by lower prices.
Revenue from that drug fell 4.6% last year, hurt by competitive purchasing tenders in China, loss of patent protection in Brazil and price cuts in Britain.
Bayer’s Xarelto, as well as eye drug Eylea, also face the loss of patent protection over the next few years.
Investors banking on a turnaround in drug development will need patience because pivotal trial results on Bayer’s most promising drug under development, next-generation anti-blood- clotting drug asundexian, are not expected until 2025.
($1 = 0.9437 euros)