Israel's Teva Pharm first quarter profit falls slightly less than forecast

Israel's Teva Pharm first quarter profit falls slightly less than forecast
The logo of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is seen during a news conference hold by its CEO, Kare Schultz, to discuss the company's 2019 outlooks in Tel Aviv, Israel February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen -
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TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries reported a slightly smaller-than-expected drop in first-quarter profit on Thursday and said it was on track to cut $3 billion (£2 billion) of costs by the end of 2019.

The world's largest generic drugmaker earned 60 cents per diluted share excluding one-time items in the January-March period, down from 94 cents a year earlier.

Revenue fell 15 percent to $4.3 billion, mainly due to generic competition to Teva's multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone and a decline in revenue from respiratory products and its U.S. generics business.

Analysts had forecast Teva would earn 58 cents a share ex-items on revenue of $4.38 billion, I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv showed.

Teva has reduced its spend base by $2.5 billion since initiating a restructuring plan in 2018.

CEO Kare Schultz said the company was on track to cut $3 billion in spending by the end of this year while continuing to lower debt.

"Our focus is on stabilising our global generics business and ensuring the success of our long-term organic growth drivers, especially Ajovy and Austedo," he said, referring to Teva's branded treatments for migraine headaches and Huntington's disease.

"Both products continue to gain momentum since their initial launches and we are making the necessary investments to be able to bring them to markets outside of the U.S."

Launched in September, Ajovy had U.S. sales of $20 million in the first quarter. Austedo's sales more than doubled to $74 million.

For 2019 the company reaffirmed its forecast of adjusted EPS of $2.20-$2.50 on revenue of $17.0-$17.4 billion. Analysts are forecasting EPS of $2.40 on revenue of $17.29 billion.

(Reporting by Tova Cohen and Steven Scheer)

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