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Thu 12 Nov 2009 12:40 PM

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Hikma CEO sees 'tremendous' Iraq potential

UPDATE 1: Mideast drugs company expects strong sales in Q4, FY seen up 10%.


Hikma Pharmaceuticals

on Thursday said full year sales growth will be at the lower end of expectations, but added that fourth quarter sales were accelerating and that it sees “tremendous” potential in Iraq.

Sales have accelerated in the fourth quarter after a slowdown in the previous quarter, which was hit by Ramadan and the Eid Al Fitr holiday, the Jordan-based company said in a trading update.

Oral diabetes treatment Actos has seen sales rise by 50 percent in the year to date, while revenue from blood pressure drug Blopress have doubled, chief executive Said Darwazah told Arabian Business in an interview.

The generic drug maker is on track to post 10 percent revenue growth for the full year, he said.

Hikma

said in March this year that revenue growth would slow to 10 to 15 percent from 29 percent last year.

Darwazah said the company’s strongest markets were Egypt, the most populous Arab country, and Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy.

Sales in the two countries are set to benefit from healthcare reform and high infrastructure spending, respectively, over the next few years, he said.

“Iraq, where the market has been battered in recent years, has the potential to grow significantly in the future. Twenty years ago, Iraq was probably the largest market in the region,” he said.

“The potential for the market to grow in the next five years is tremendous.”

Hikma

said its gross margin continued to improve and that it expects to report a full-year gross margin of around 46 percent, up two percent on 2008.

The company also said it had cut its net debt position to $155.7 million at the end of September, compared with $164.4 million at the end of June and $170.9 million at the end of 2008.

Hikma

, which listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2005, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of generic and in-licensed pharmaceutical products.

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