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Source: Bayer news release

Leverkusen - The Bayer Group performed as expected in the opening months of the year. "First-quarter sales declined slightly versus the prior year. The Pharmaceuticals Division saw gains in growth and profitability, and the Crop Science Division outperformed in a difficult market. Consumer Health started slower, but is set to get back to growth over the course of the year," CEO Bill Anderson said on Tuesday when presenting the company's quarterly statement for the first quarter.

He reaffirmed Bayer's outlook for 2024 at constant currencies. Anderson also commented on the company's strategic priorities. "In March, I highlighted four areas we're focused on to get Bayer back on track. Two months later, we've made progress in each one," he said, referring to growth and innovation, the US litigation, cash and deleveraging, and the new Dynamic Shared Ownership (DSO) operating model.

Regarding the implementation of DSO, Bayer's CEO explained: "We're consolidating roles, designing teams for more impact, and taking out layers. The most important measure of our impact will be much greater than a job number or a cost savings target. It will be in our ability to innovate, grow our businesses, and improve life for our customers."

Group sales came in at 13.765 billion euros in the first quarter of 2024, and were therefore slightly below the prior-year figure on a currency- and portfolio-adjusted basis (Fx & portfolio adj. minus 0.6 percent). There was a negative currency effect of 525 million euros (Q1 2023: positive currency effect of 102 million euros).

EBITDA before special items decreased by 1.3 percent to 4.412 billion euros. EBIT advanced by 4.0 percent to 3.092 billion euros after net special charges of 207 million euros (Q1 2023: 431 million euros). The special charges primarily related to expenses for ongoing restructuring measures and affected all divisions and functional areas.

Net income fell by 8.2 percent to 2.0 billion euros, while core earnings per share decreased by 4.4 percent to 2.82 euros.

Free cash flow came in at minus 2.626 billion euros (Q1 2023: minus 4.102 billion euros), mainly due to the improvement in operating cash flow. Net financial debt as of March 31, 2024, came in at 37.488 billion euros, up 8.7 percent from year-end 2023. This was mainly attributable to cash outflows from operating activities due to seasonal factors.

Crop Science outperforms peers in terms of sales trajectory in a challenging market environment

In the agricultural business (Crop Science), Bayer outperformed its peers in a difficult market. Sales declined by 3.0 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) to 7.907 billion euros, mainly due to lower volumes for non-glyphosate-based herbicides and the Fungicides business in Europe/Middle East/Africa.

With respect to glyphosate-based products, the division recorded significant market-driven price declines in all regions that were not fully offset by the strong volume recovery. The strategic business entities Herbicides and Fungicides saw sales fall by 13.3 percent and 8.5 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.), respectively.

Sales at Soybean Seed & Traits were level with the prior-year period (Fx & portfolio adj.). Business at Corn Seed & Traits was up by 2.0 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) thanks to higher prices in all regions, while sales at Insecticides advanced 2.3 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.), driven by increased volumes in Europe/Middle East/Africa and North America.

EBITDA before special items at Crop Science declined by 12.8 percent to 2.849 billion euros, mainly due to price declines for glyphosate-based products. There was also a negative currency effect of 92 million euros (Q1 2023: positive currency effect of 54 million euros).

To read the entire report click here.

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