UPDATE 1-S.Africa's Aspen Pharmacare posts 21% rise in annual profit, resumes dividend
JOHANNESBURG, Sept 1 (Reuters) - South African drug manufacturer Aspen Pharmacare APNHF posted a 21% increase in annual profit on Wednesday, helped by a revival in demand for medicines after people had postponed visiting hospitals and clinics during the pandemic.
Its headline earnings per share - the main measure of corporate profit in South Africa - came in at 1,204 cents for the year ended June 30, up from 998 cents a year earlier, the company said in a statement after the local stock market close.
The pharmaceuticals major resumed dividends, announcing a payout of 262 cents per share. It said future distributions would continue to be decided on a year-to-year basis.
Most pharmaceutical companies took a hit last year as countries went into lockdown, hurting demand for prescription and over-the-counter products.
But as restrictions were eased and health concerns took a priority amid the coronavirus pandemic, drug manufacturers have benefitted.
Companies such as Aspen have also benefitted from their involvement in COVID-19 vaccine campaigns, with Aspen's market value more than doubling since the beginning of the pandemic, investors and analysts have said.
The company, which has been contracted to package and supply Johnson & Johnson's JNJ COVID-19 vaccine in Africa, said its revenues for the last financial year came in at 37.8 billion rand ($2.63 billion), 12% higher than the one before.
Its shares ended the day down almost 3%, compared with a 0.67% decline in the broader index .JALSH.
($1 = 14.3978 rand)
(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee Editing by Emma Rumney and Mark Potter)
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