Wellcome shares plunge despite strong interim results

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The Independent Online
SHARES in Wellcome, one of Britain's biggest drug companies, plunged 72p to 818p yesterday, despite strong interim profits.

John Robb, Wellcome's chief executive, said the company was coping 'more than adequately'.

'These are clearly not easy times with countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain and to a lesser extent the UK taking extreme measures against the pharmaceutical industry in an effort to control healthcare costs,' he said. He added that he awaited 'with interest' the outcome of the US review of healthcare due in May.

Helped by a big boost from sterling's devaluation last September, pre-tax profits for the six months ended 27 February, which were prepared under the new FRS3 accounting standard, rose by a third to pounds 325m. Stripping out exchange-rate gains the underlying improvement was around 14 per cent.

Some analysts said the drop in Wellcome's share price was in part a continuing reaction to a profit warning and job cuts from Merck, the world's biggest pharmaceutical company, released two days ago.

Wellcome has declared an interim dividend of 4.8p (4p) net a share to be paid on 1 July to shareholders on the register on 8 April.

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