July 31, 2020 / 8:54 AM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-Takeda Pharma raises profit forecast as it focuses on core drug business

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TOKYO, July 31 (Reuters) - Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co on Friday raised its full-year profit forecast as it refocuses on its core prescription drug businesses following its $59 billion takeover of Shire Plc last year.

Japan's largest drugmaker by revenue expects operating profit of 395 billion yen ($3.78 billion) in the year to March 2021, it said on Friday in reporting quarterly earnings.

The revision to its forecast was mainly due to one-time items, Takeda said. It compares with a previous forecast of 355 billion yen in operating profit and a consensus of 382.5 billion yen in a Refinitiv poll of 13 analysts.

Takeda announced this year a pause in the start of new drug trials except for its plasma-derived COVID-19 therapy. It formed an alliance of 10 global plasma companies to develop a shared therapy that uses immune cells from the blood of recovered coronavirus patients.

The group, called the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, is ready to ship vials to study sites once the trial is approved by regulators in the United States, Takeda said this week.

The Shire acquisition, completed in January 2019, expanded Takeda's pipeline and diversified its global sales, with about half now coming from the United States. But it also saddled the drugmaker with a big debt.

To reduce leverage, Takeda has pledged to dispose of $10 billion worth of non-core assets. It has divested about $8 billion so far, and it said it is looking to sell its consumer drug business in Japan for about 400 billion yen.

Domestically, Takeda is focusing on five business areas and revamping its human resources system in a plan that sources said may lead to job cuts.

Operating profit for the three months that ended in June more than tripled to 167.3 billion yen, helped by a decline in integration costs related to Shire, Takeda said.

Sales slipped 5.6% to 801.9 billion yen, largely due to foreign exchange effects. ($1 = 104.3600 yen) (Reporting by Rocky Swift Editing by Tom Hogue, Robert Birsel)

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