Bayer Says Fourth-Quarter Profit Surges to $409.9 Million

Bayer, one of the world's biggest chemical and pharmaceutical companies, said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit surged nearly seven times because of growth in its health care business.

The Leverkusen-based company earned 311 million euros ($409.99 million) in the October-December period, compared with 46 million euros a year earlier, beating the 62 million euros ($81.73 million) that analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had predicted.

Sales during the fourth quarter rose 25% to 7.97 billion euros ($10.51 billion) from 6.37 billion euros in 2005.

For the year, the company earned 1.68 billion euros ($2.21 billion) compared with 1.6 billion euros in 2006, which reflected its 17 billion euros ($22.41 billion) acquisition of Schering and the sale of its diagnostics unit. The figure was more than the 1.39 billion euros ($1.83 billion) expected by analysts.

Sales rose to 28.96 billion euros ($38.18 billion) from 24.7 billion euros in 2006.

Looking ahead, Bayer said it expected 2007 sales to rise 10% more than in 2006.