(Adds comment from CEO, details)
ZURICH, July 24 (Reuters) - Lonza Group's first-half profit plunged as it took losses linked to the sale of its water business and as difficulties at its specialty ingredients business continued, though the Swiss drug ingredients maker confirmed full-year targets.
Lonza posted 300 million Swiss francs ($304.14 million) in net income, the Basel-based company said on Wednesday, down from 405 million francs in the year-earlier period.
First-half sales rose 6.4% to 2.98 billion francs, while core earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation rose 7% to 828 million francs.
Lonza, which manufactures everything from viruses for gene therapies to collagen made from chickens for joint health, said it is on pace to hit its 2019 goal of mid-to-high single-digit sales growth as double-digit gains in its drug and biotech unit offset weaker performance in special ingredients and nutrition.
The company completed the sale of its water business in March, but took 93 million francs in charges on the discontinued operation.
"The strong momentum in our Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization businesses continues to drive our financial performance," Chief Executive Marc Funk said in a statement. "Challenges in other parts of the business are being addressed."
$1 = 0.9862 Swiss francs Reporting by John Miller Editing by John Revill