Bayer has posted a decline in earnings and sales for the third quarter this morning, but pharmaceuticals continued to perform well as the German firm’s CropScience unit dragged the figures down.

Net income fell 10.1% to 249 million euros, a less dramatic decline than expected by analysts, while group turnover was down 7.0% to 7.39 billion euros. However, sales at Bayer’s healthcare division were up 3.5% to 3.94 billion euros, helped by a favourable currency impact, while pharmaceutical revenues increased 3.0% to 2.55 billion euros.

Growth was driven by Betaferon/Betaseron (interferon beta 1b) for multiple sclerosis (283 million euros; -2.7%) and the Yasmin (ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone) contraceptive franchise which climbed 3.9% to 320 million euros. Mirena, the firm’s levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine contraceptive system, contributed 105 million euros, flat on the like, year-earlier period.

The haemophilia agent Kogenate (recombinant antihaemophilic factor), edged up 5.1% to 247 million euros, while Nexavar (sorafenib), which is approved for liver as well as advanced kidney cancer, contributed 161 million euros, up 33.1%. Sales of the hypertension treatment Adalat (nifedipine) were up 4.7% to 155 million euros and the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra (vardenafil) climbed 12.2% to 92 million euros.

As for Bayer’s antibiotics, Cipro/Ciprobay (ciprofloxacin) brought in 83 million euros, down 1.2%, while Avelox (moxifloxacin) fell 8.9% to 92 million euros. Chairman Werner Wenning said the group achieved a slight year-on-year increase in underlying profits for the first time this year and said “we are very pleased to have reversed the earnings trend despite the fact that many industries are still suffering from the economic crisis”.

He added that Bayer is “still adhering to our ambitious full-year forecast” of 31- 32 billion euros in sales and limiting the decline in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation and special items, to 5%. The company plans to complete its current restructuring programmes by the end of 2009, and estimates the special charges involved in that process will reach 350 million euros, up from a previous estimate of 250 million euros.