Actelion Raises Dividend 20% as Sales Jump on New Lung Drug

Feb 11, 2014 3:18 am ET

(Updates with analyst comment in fourth paragraph, shares trading in sixth.)

Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Actelion Ltd. raised its dividend by 20 percent after the Swiss drugmaker reported higher-than- estimated profit and raised its earnings forecast for the year.

Shareholders will receive a payout of 1.20 Swiss francs a share, up from 1 franc last year, the Allschwil-based company said in a statement today. That exceeded an estimate for a dividend of 1 franc, according to analysts at Bloomberg Dividend Forecasting. Percentage growth in earnings excluding some items will be in the low single digits at constant exchange rates, the company said, compared with a previous forecast for earnings at least at the same level as last year.

Actelion is benefiting from the approval last year of Opsumit, a new drug to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. Peak sales of the drug will exceed those of Tracleer, the company’s existing treatment for the same illness, Actelion said today.

“Clinician feedback on Opsumit has been almost unanimously encouraging, with payers the only major hurdle for blockbuster potential notably in Europe,” Peter Welford, an analyst at Jefferies International Ltd. in London, wrote in a note to investors today.

Product sales last year rose 3.6 percent to 1.78 billion francs ($2 billion) and core operating income increased 15 percent to 619 million francs. Earnings per share of 4.41 francs beat the average analyst estimate of 4.38 francs.

Actelion rose 1.3 percent to 90.90 francs at 9:02 a.m. in Zurich. The stock has more than doubled in the last year, including reinvested dividends, compared with a 25 percent increase in the Bloomberg Europe Pharmaceutical Index.

--Editors: Kristen Hallam, Robert Valpuesta