(Adds CEO comments, analyst, share, detail)
May 10 (Reuters) - Danish drugmaker Lundbeck raised its financial guidance for the fourth time in 12 months as sales of its anti-epileptic drug Sabril was not dented by copycat competition, as Lundbeck had expected, its chief executive said on Wedneday.
* 2017 revenue guidance was raised to between 16.5 billion and 17.3 billion Danish crowns ($2.42-$2.53 billion) from and earlier guidance of between 16.3 billion and 17.1 billion crowns
* Profit from operations is now expected to be between 3.6 billion and 4.0 billion crowns in 2017 up from an earlier guidance of between 3.4 billion and 3.8 billion
* “Primarily sales have been a little better because we haven’t experienced any generic competition on Sabril yet... and also because our costs are a bit lower than expected,” chief executive Kaare Schultz told Reuters in a telephone interview
* Lundbeck has raised its financial guidance in every quarter since Schultz joined the company from Danish peer Novo Nordisk in May 2016
* Lundbeck saw an increase in its net cash position of 3 billion crowns. Schultz said the money would be used to pay off company debt and for new potential acquisitions of early stage research and development projects
* “It’s typically smaller deals because our strategy is to be organically involved in developing the drugs from the early research results and the whole way through,” he said
* Schultz said he did not expect the EBIT margin to exceed 24 percent in 2017 but that he maintains his expectations of a 25 percent EBIT margin in 2018
* “All in all, our first take is that this is a slight beat, flattered on EPS by a lower than forecast tax rate. The guidance change is as expected,” analysts from Deutsche Bank said in a note
* First-quarter revenue rose to 4.21 billion crowns from 3.77 billion in the same quarter last year, just missing the 4.22 billion expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.
* Lundbeck shares are up 2.7 percent at 0910 GMT, placing it amongst the top-ten performers in the Stoxx Europe 600 index . Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage: ($1 = 6.8309 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Julie Astrid Thomsen and Gdynia Newsroom, editing by Teis Jensen and Terje Solsvik)