Bayer says that it is expecting to see “considerable growth” in both sales and earnings for the coming year, and is targeting a 20% increase in earnings before interest and tax versus the 2.03 billion euros recorded in 2004 [[02/03/05a]], coupled with sales in excess of 25 billion euros.

According to the German company’s chief executive, Werner Wenning, this optimistic outlook is confirmed by “gratifying” results from the first two months of this year. “Bayer is on the road to success – both operationally and strategically,” he said, adding that the company, which has completed the biggest shake-up in its history, “now has a new face.” The firm restructuring was triggered by the 2001 withdrawal of its top-selling cholesterol-lowering agent, Lipobay/Baycol (cerivastatin), from the market [[08/08/01a]].

Bayer confirmed that sales for 2004 grew by 4% to 29.8 billion euros, due primarily to strong demand in the industrial businesses, while EBIT before special items surged 53% to 2.2 billion. Overall, the firm says that it more than offset the sharp rise in raw material costs, negative currency effects and the expiration of the US patent for the antibiotic Cipro (ciprofloxacin) [[11/06/04e]]. “We are well satisfied with these results, as we considerably exceeded our sales and earnings targets in 2004,” said Mr Wenning.

Sales in the healthcare division dipped 4% to 8.5 billion euros as a result of the competition to Cipro. However, Bayer remains optimistic for the future, and says that it hopes to launch its cancer drug, BAY 43-9006, which is currently in Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of kidney cancer, in 2006. Phase III studies also recently began in patients with advanced liver cancer and Bayer hopes to soon announce the start of phase III testing for skin cancer. In addition to this innovative cancer product, Bayer also has high hopes for BAY 59-7939 in the prevention and therapy of thrombosis, which it believes could achieve annual sales of 1 billion euros if trials continue to be successful.