Germany’s Bayer says that its performance “significantly” improved in 2004, when a 4% hike in sales during the twelve months to 29.8 billion euros versus the previous year [[18/03/04a]], resulted in a 603 million euro profit for the period, versus a 1.4 billion euro loss in 2003.

The company was hit by a 2.6 billion-euro special charge in 2003 relating to legal claims for the now withdrawn cholesterol-lowering drug Lipobay/Baycol (cerivastatin) [[08/08/01a]], [[21/09/04b]], and restructuring charges primarily as a result of its decision to spin off its polymers business, which is now operating as Lanxess [[11/01/05f]].

In 2004, the firm’s operating result (EBIT) before special items climbed a not insignificant 53% to 2.2 billion euros, on the back of continued efforts to reduce costs and increase efficiency, the firm noted, adding that it was more than able to offset the sharp rise in raw material prices, negative currency effects and US generic competition to its once top-selling antibiotic, Cipro (ciprofloxacin) [[11/06/04e]]. “This improvement in our operating performance is very gratifying. We have exceeded our sales and earnings targets and successfully realigned our company,” said chief executive, Werner Wenning.

On a quarterly basis, the firm recorded net income of 41 million euros – versus almost a 2 billion euro loss in the corresponding quarter of 2003 – and a 9% rise in sales to in excess of 7.7 billion euros.

Bayer says it will provide further details of its 2004 performance at its financial news conference on March 15.