Manoplax holds back Boots

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The Independent Online
THE costs of withdrawing Manoplax, its heart drug which was found in some cases to hasten death, marred a good performance from Boots' chemist chain to leave interim pre-tax profits 6.2 per cent lower at pounds 174.6m, writes Heather Connon.

The group had already announced it would provide pounds 35m for asset write-offs on Manoplax, but yesterday it said redundancies and the completion of clinical trial studies had cost a further pounds 14m in the six months to September. Before the Manoplax cost and a pounds 9.8m profit on the sale of two businesses, profits were up 7.3 per cent at pounds 199.8m.

The best performer was Boots the Chemist, where profits rose from pounds 117.4m to pounds 132.7m on sales up 5.8 per cent at pounds 1.3bn. The group intends to add 240 stores in the next four years at a cost of pounds 75m. These will mainly be in market towns.

Before the Manoplax write-off, pharmaceutical profits dropped from pounds 58.4m to pounds 37.1m. This was largely because of a 13 per cent drop in US sales of Synthroid, the thyroid replacement therapy, caused by a build-up of stocks in the previous year. The group is reviewing the future of its pharmaceuticals division after the Manoplax failure.

Earnings were 11.5p a share (12.5p) and the dividend was raised by 6.5 per cent to 4.9p. The shares, down initially, recovered to close 6p higher at 511p.

Bottom Line, page 36

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