* Lonza net profit more than doubles to 728 mln Sfr
* Proposes stable dividend of 2.75 francs per share
* Confirms 2022 targets (Adds details about purchases, comments from CEO, dividend and targets)
ZURICH, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Swiss drug ingredients maker Lonza on Wednesday reported a higher-than-expected 82 percent increase in its core 2017 profit, as the Basel-based company benefited from a string of acquisitions.
Core profit came in at 806 million Swiss francs ($864.53 million), higher than the 674 million franc average forecast of analysts in a Reuters poll. Its sales rose 23.5 percent to 5.1 billion francs, matching the forecast in the poll.
Lonza's full-year net profit more than doubled to 728 million francs, from 301 million francs in 2016.
Lonza has seen robust sales and profit growth from its $5.5 billion takeover of U.S.-based capsule maker Capsugel as well as InterHealth Nutraceuticals for $300 million in 2016.
Since then, it has been integrating the purchases and said it is unlikely to return to the hunt for large targets until that is complete.
"Following the acquisition of Capsugel, we have successfully achieved our goals and even over-delivered," said Chief Executive Richard Ridinger in a statement.
"With such a rapid step-up in size – of our sales, employees and entities – we are now optimising all of our processes and structures to ensure profitable growth continues well into the future."
Lonza is proposing a stable dividend of 2.75 francs per share for 2017.
For 2018, it is forecasting mid-single-digit sales growth on a comparable basis and 100 basis points improvement in its core margin for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.
The company confirmed its 2022 target of sales of 7.5 billion francs, a core EBITDA margin of 30 percent, and core return on net assets of 35 percent.
Lonza's varied products range from ingredients for Roche cancer drugs, HTH-brand swimming pool chemicals and wood protection. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Jane Merriman)