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UCB fuelled by CVN success and pipeline promise

  • 18 Dec 15

The last quarter has been an eventful one for UCB, with several positive triggers (following the phase III failure of its Lupus drug, Epratuzumab) – both on the operating as well as the pipeline front – driving the improved momentum and outlook for the company. From the encouraging read-out from its osteoporosis drug Romosozumab to the positive CHMP recommendation for its pipeline epilepsy drug, Brivaracetam, and the successful divestiture of Kremers Urban to US-based Lannett Inc. (for $1.23bn), there have been several positive developments, which augur well for near-to-mid-term delivery prospects. Better-than-anticipated reception to the core CVN (Cimzia, Vimpat, Neupro) portfolio and a series of successful label extensions, embellish the future growth potential further. The trend has been echoed in the company’s Q3 trading performance, which came in ahead of consensus estimates. Revenue increased c.17% yoy to €947m driven by across-the-board growth and the strong performance of the CVN portfolio. The off-patent drug Keppra remained surprisingly strong, reporting a 9% growth, driven by supply shortages in the US and strong uptake in the Japanese market. 9M revenue growth was c.19% (12% CER). Given the solid performance, management has made a second successive upgrade to its FY 15 guidance – Revenue now expected to be c.€3.75bn (earlier €3.65-3.75bn), EBITDA – c.€800m (earlier c.€740m), EPS – €2.0-2.1 (earlier €1.9-2.05).