Bayer has achieved record sales for 2014, posting a 5.2% rise to 42.2 billion euros, in line with the company’s forecasts.

New drugs in its pharma portfolio helped drive growth, with the latest five launches - the blood thinner Xarelto (rivaroxaban), eye treatment Eylea (aflibercept), cancer therapies Stivarga (regorafenib) and Xofigo (radium 223) and pulmonary hypertension drug Adempas (riociguat) - adding 2.9 billion euros to the books and pushing overall sales from the segment up 11.2% to 12.1 billion euros.

Elsewhere, revenues from the Mirena birth control franchise jumped 15.1%, while Aspirin Cardio for secondary prevention of heart attacks grew 12.4%. On the downside, sales of blood-clotting medicine Kogenate (recombinant antihaemophilic factor) slipped 5.6%, partly because of a temporary dip production capacity, while sales of multiple sclerosis drug Betaferon/Betaseron (interferon beta 1b) dropped 19.6%, mainly because of increased competition in the US.

Overall, group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) before special items rose 4.9% to 8.8 billion euros, despite negative currency effects of around 4%, Bayer said.

For the fourth quarter, group sales were up 11.6% to 11 billion euros, while EBITDA was up 4.4% at 1.8 billion euros. However, net income for the period plummeted 51% to 224 million euros, pushed down by a jump in R&D and selling costs. Analysts were calling for a rise in net profit to 483 million euros, according to a poll by The Wall Street Journal.

Looking forward, chief executive Marijn Dekkers said he remains “optimistic about the future”. Bayer is forecasting 2015 sales in the region of 46 billion euros, and a low- to mid-teens percentage rise in EBITDA before special items. The HealthCare business is expected to generate turnover of around 23 billion euros, with the pharmaceuticals segment contributing around 13 billion euros, including 4 billion euros from its recently launched products. 

And in a strategic change of direction, Bayer has already unveiled plans to spin off its material science division through an initial public offering by mid 2016 at the latest, in a bid to raise some capital and refocus its business on healthcare.