UPDATE 2-Drugmaker Sobi profit tops forecasts, sees markets recovering

* Core profit beats expectations at 922 mln crowns

* Europe’s drug agency evaluating Sobi drug for COVID-19

* Shares rise as demand starts to recover after tough year (Adds share reaction, detail, background)

STOCKHOLM, July 21 (Reuters) - Rare disease drugmaker Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (Sobi) reported on Wednesday a smaller than expected drop in second-quarter core profit and said market conditions had started to improve as pandemic restrictions eased.

Its shares climbed 6% in early trade.

Quarterly operating profit before amortisation (EBITA) fell 9% year on year to 922 million crowns ($105.8 million) with a profit margin of 35%, which was better than the average forecast by analysts polled by Refinitiv for a 691 million crown profit.

“Our figures are still impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions and lockdowns, but as restrictions have eased, we have started to see improved market conditions,” Chief Executive Guido Oelkers said in a statement.

Sobi, which sell drugs within hemophilia, autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases and cancer supportive care, reiterated a full-year outlook for sales in the range of 14-15 billion crowns, and an EBITA margin of 30%-35%.

Europe’s medicines regulator said this week it was evaluating Sobi’s arthritis drug Kineret, with the active substance anakinra, for the treatment of COVID-19 in adults with pneumonia who are at risk of severe respiratory failure.

Sobi, which throughout the pandemic has suffered from weakened demand for its drugs as healthcare focuses on the pandemic, in March 2020 launched studies to evaluate anakinra and another of its immunology drug substances, emapalumab, for the treatment of COVID-19.

$1 = 8.7164 Swedish crowns Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Edmund Blair