FRANKFURT - Germany's Bayer on Wednesday pledged to revive growth in adjusted earnings by 2024, helped by the launch of products such as digital farming services, soy seeds and non-prescription remedies. The agriculture and pharmaceuticals group said in a statement it was aiming for core earnings per share of between 7 euros ($8.3) and 7.50 euros by 2024, based on foreign exchange rates at end-2020, up from 6.39 euros in 2020. Bayer last month said that core EPS would drop 5.60 to 5.80 euros in 2021, falling short of investors' expectations and raising questions about the strength of the agriculture business it boosted with the $63 billion takeover of Monsanto. "At Crop Science we’re targeting above-market growth from 2022. We’re also aiming for above-market growth at Consumer Health," Chief Executive Werner Baumann said in a statement. For the first time, Bayer specified the effect of patents on its best-selling stroke prevention pill Xarelto expiring from 2024 on its Pharmaceuticals division. The unit's margin of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) as a percentage of sales would be above 30% in 2024, when the loss of patent protection begins to bite, down from 34.9% in 2020, it added. The margin would be 32% to 34% in 2023, because of higher development costs. "We plan to continue to grow at Pharmaceuticals despite patent expirations and only expect to register a modest decline in sales in 2024,” Bayer said. REUTERS
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