CSL says pandemic’s plasma drought is over, but inflation bites

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CSL boss Paul McKenzie says the biotech giant has not been able to avoid the impact of inflation and currency fluctuations even as collections of blood plasma, the critical ingredient in the company’s medicines, surge.

The $127 billion ASX heavyweight told investors on Tuesday morning that the vital part of many of its life-saving therapies, human blood plasma, has started flowing again, with the company seeing volumes climb by 31 per cent to hit record levels after years of disruption through the pandemic.

CSL chief executive Paul McKenzie stepped into the top job after Paul Perreault retired in March. Credit: Eamon Gallagher

But as CSL had previously warned, the business faced challenging macroeconomic conditions in the 2023 year and its net profit came in at $US2.19 billion ($3.4 billion), a 3 per cent decline on 2022.

Foreign currency movements had a big role to play in the final result, with management keen to highlight that underlying profit, expressed as net profit after tax and amortisation (NPATA), was up 20 per cent when the impact of currency fluctuations was removed, to $US2.61 billion for the year.

Revenues were up by 31 per cent to $US13.31 billion in constant currency terms, driven by the CSL Behring business, which generated $US9.3 billion thanks to a jump in sales of its major blood plasma therapies.

Flu vaccine business CSL Seqirus saw sales rise 9 per cent to $US2 billion, while the newly acquired CSL Vifor also delivered $US2 billion in its first 11 months in the CSL stable.

McKenzie assured investors that the company was focused on measures to become more efficient, including managing the costs of blood plasma collection and maximising its manufacturing returns.

“While we have not been immune to inflation and currency headwinds, our focus on improving efficiencies across our global network of manufacturing sites has helped reduce the impact,” he said.

The group reiterated expectations that its NPATA for 2024 would come in at between $US2.9 billion and $US3 billion.

CSL shareholders will see a final dividend of $US1.29 per share, to be paid on October 4, which brings to total full-year dividend to $US2.39, up 6 per cent.

More to come.

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