United Drug planning name change

United Drug is planning to rebrand as UDG Healthcare later this year, with the new trading name acting as an umbrella for the group’s growing number of subsidiaries.

United Drug will remain the name for the Dublin-headquartered healthcare services group’s wholesale drug business. The name change is expected to take place in September, pending shareholder approval.

The news formed part of a strong first-half report issued by the company yesterday, which showed that the US has become the largest contributing region to United Drug’s profits.

During the six months to the end of March, United Drug grew its adjusted pre-tax profits by 8% — on an annualised basis — to €38m. Diluted adjusted earnings per share rose 7% to 12.58c; operating profit was up 13% to €44.6m; and group revenue was ahead by 14% on the same period last year, at just under €1.2bn.

The growth was largely driven by the contribution of the Stuttgart-based Pharmexx GmbH — the former contract sales arm of German healthcare and pharmaceutical giant Celesio — which United Drug bought for €35m last year.

Yesterday’s first-half results — which included a 5% year-on-year increase in interim dividend to 2.61c — also showed that the group incurred overall exceptional charges of between €21m and €24m for the period, mainly relating to the closure of its UK-based commercial packaging facilities.

Regarding growth, the group expects to see adjusted earnings per share rise by between 5% and 8% this year, with a mix of organic and acquisition activity driving it forward.

United Drug spent well over €100m on buys last year and group chief executive Liam FitzGerald said the pipeline of opportunities remains strong. The group has €50m-€60m to spend per year if it so wishes.

Approximately 72% of group earnings are now generated from outside of Ireland, but United Drug hasn’t ignored its home market.

Its speciality homecare business here performed well in the first half, with the group also investing in it heavily.


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