CSL posts $US2.4 billion profit but warns of weaker year ahead

AstraZeneca vaccine maker CSL has exceeded expectations with a $US2.4 billion ($3.3 billion) full-year profit but chief executive Paul Perreault has warned of a challenging year ahead.

The business has weathered tough pandemic conditions to record product sales up 10 per cent on a constant currency basis to $US9.98 billion, with its vaccine business Seqirus continuing to grow strongly after record production of 130 million flu doses.

The CSL facility in Melbourne is manufacturing Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. Credit:Getty

CSL surprised in the first half with a net profit of $1.8 billion for the six months to December, though Mr Perreault warned the second half of the year would not be quite as strong due to a range of factors including challenges collecting plasma, the key ingredient in many of CSL’s therapies.

The company said its core immunoglobulin products, which use plasma, were strong in the second half. Mr Perreault said demand for CSL’s plasma products remained robust, and that he was optimistic that greater social mobility due to vaccinations would help bring collections back to pre-COVID levels.

However, the company is guiding to lower profits for the 2022 financial year of between $US2.15 and $US2.25 billion at constant currency basis.

“At the half-year results, we foreshadowed margin easing as a result of increased plasma costs, this will continue into FY22. We see FY22 as a transitional year as we continue to invest and deliver against our long-term strategy,” Mr Perreault said.

The business declared a final dividend of $US1.18 per share, bringing the final dividend to $US2.22, up from $US2.02 the year prior. Chair Brian McNamee told investors this was because “the Board has every confidence that CSL’s strong foundations and disciplined execution of strategy will allow us to return to sustainable growth”.

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