* Expects $60 million hit to operating profit in 2018
* Co's PharMEDium business weighs on Q1 results, FY forecast
* Says Memphis facility to resume operations this quarter
* CEO says generic drug prices stabilized further in Q1
* Still, Q1 profit more than triples, helped by tax benefit
* Raises 2018 adj. EPS view on expected tax benefit (Recasts lede, adds comments from analysts, company; updates share move)
Feb 6 (Reuters) - U.S. drug distributor AmerisourceBergen Corp said it expected to take a $60 million hit to its core profit in 2018 due to suspension of operations at its facility that produces around half of the compounded drugs it supplies.
Operations at the automated facility in Memphis, its largest, were suspended in December following an inspection by the U.S. drug regulator.
The plant, which makes medicines in doses that are not commercially available, was acquired as part of AmerisourceBergen's 2015 buy of PharMEDium Healthcare Holdings.
Shares of the Pennsylvania-based company fell 3.7 percent to $88.46 on Tuesday.
"They bought this asset that was viewed as a high-growth, high-margin business and now it's starting to become a drag for them. That's a disappointment impact for the stock today," Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut told Reuters.
The company's top-earning drug distribution services unit which connects drugmakers with hospitals and pharmacies earned $38.94 billion in the first quarter.
But trouble with the facility, which the company said will resume operations this quarter, dragged sales below the $39.29 billion estimated on average by three analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Investors who previously overlooked the importance of this facility for the company are now concerned about how it will get the plant up and running, a Deutsche Bank analyst said.
AmerisourceBergen's first-quarter profit beat expectations as a fall in generic drug prices steadied after a volatile 2017.
Tumbling generic drug prices have hurt the supply chain through much of last year, but drug wholesalers have forecast recovery in 2018.
"In the first quarter of the fiscal year, we saw further market, pricing and competitive stability," AmerisourceBergen Chief Executive Steven Collis said, echoing comments made by larger rival McKesson Corp last week.
AmerisourceBergen posted a quarterly profit that more than tripled to $861.9 million, or $3.90 per share, helped by a $587.6 million tax benefit.
The company said it would focus on differentiated pricing of biosimilar drugs to offset lower contribution from generics.
AmerisourceBergen raised its adjusted earnings per share forecast for fiscal 2018 to between $6.45 and $6.65 from $5.90 to $6.15.
Despite warning of lower contribution from PharMEDium, the company raised its profit forecast on account of expected benefits from favorable U.S. tax laws.
Excluding items, the company earned $1.55 per share in the quarter ended Dec. 31.
Revenue rose 6 percent to $40.47 billion. Analysts on average were expecting adjusted earnings of $1.35 per share on revenue of $40.50 billion. (Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Arun Koyyur)