Bayer unveiled a pleasing set of results for the full year of 2006 this morning, helped by its acquisition of fellow German drugmaker Schering AG and a solid performance by its healthcare business.

The group achieved a “record underlying operating result” in 2006, according to Management Board Chairman Werner Wenning. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation and before special items jumped 21.3% to 5.6 billion euros ($7.4 billion).

Growth was primarily driven by strong group sales, which leapt 17.2% to nearly 29 billion euros, including 3 billion euros in revenues from the Schering business in the period from June 2006.

Bayer HealthCare was particularly successful, Wenning noted, turning in above market growth for all its divisions, leading to a 46.6% leap in turnover to 11.7 billion euros. The pharmaceuticals segment rocketed 83.9% to just shy of 7.5 billion euros, on good performances by: the Yasmin (ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone) contraceptive franchise, proforma sales of which grew 35.5%; the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra (vardenafil), up 20.8%; the haemophilia agent Kogenate (recombinant antihaemophilic factor), climbing 18.7%; and proforma turnover of Betaferon/Betaseron (interferon beta 1b) for multiple sclerosis, which grew 14.3%.

The Consumer Health segment also did will, booking revenues of 4.2 billion euros for the year, up 8.1%, helped by the Consumer Care Division, which sells non-prescription medicines such as the painkiller Aleve (naproxen; up 27.5%) and Canesten (clotrimazole; up 11.7%).

According to the company, business performance in 2007 is already looking good, and sales growth of more than 10% is forecast for the year. “Our sales and earnings performance in the first two months of this year gives us confidence,” Wenning said. Looking further ahead, he announced that the Bayer Group aims to achieve an underlying EBITDA margin in the region of 22% by 2009. In 2002, the margin was 12%, showing that the company “is headed toward a new order of magnitude in terms of earnings,” he said.

Further details will be available tomorrow from our correspondent at Bayer’s results presentation in Leverkusen, Germany.