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Sanofi-aventis post 13 per cent profit rise

Sanofi-aventis has announced a 2009 net profit of €8.47bn – an increase of 12.8 per cent from the previous year

Sanofi-aventis(S-A) has announced a 2009 net profit (excluding some items) of €8.47bn – an increase of 12.8 per cent from the previous year. Earnings per share (excluding some items) increased by 18.2 per cent to €6.49.

Net sales for the year were €29.3bn, an increase of 6.3 per cent on a reported basis.

CEO Chris Viehbacher, who joined the company at the end of 2008, said: "2009 was the first year of implementation of our new strategy. Major steps have already been achieved in strengthening our growth platforms and reinforcing our R&D pipeline while delivering a double-digit EPS growth".

Describing 2009 as a pivotal year for the company, Viehbacher attributed the success of the company during the year to five key growth areas:
· Emerging Markets
· Diabetes Brands
· Vaccines
· Consumer Healthcare
· New Products - Multaq / Pentacel.

Sales in emerging markets were S-A's largest growth contributor, accounting for 25 per cent of the company's sales in 2009. Net sales also increased in China (up 28.8 per cent to €512m), Russia (up 59.8 per cent to €508m) and in Latin America, where growth was attributed to S-A's acquisition of Brazilian generics manufacturer Medley earlier in the year.

S-A aims to become the global leader in diabetes care, putting them in direct competition with Danish diabetes specialists Novo Nordisk.

The company's diabetes portfolio includes the world's leading insulin brand Lantus and Lovenox - the leading low molecular weight heparin on the market. In 2009, the two drugs generated sales of over €3m each.

Vaccines performed well for the French company, with Sanofi Pasteur (the vaccines franchise) delivering Q4 growth of 64.6 per cent. Influenza vaccine sales of €1.06bn and the strong performance of the paediatric inoculation Pentacel contributed to a record year for the vaccines division which represented 11.9 per cent of the group's total net sales in 2009.

Multaq, the company's atrial fibrillation medication, launched in the US in 2009 and contributed €12m to net sales for Q4 and €25m for the year. The drug has also been approved for use in Europe. It is also marketed in Canada and Switzerland and has been approved in Brazil and Mexico.

Moving into 2010, despite expected generic competition to drugs other than Lovenox, S-A expects earnings per share for the full year to be between +2 and 5 per cent at constant exchange rates.

11th February 2010

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