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Rating Action:

MOODY'S ASSIGNS A2/P-1 ISSUER RATINGS TO NOVO NORDISK A/S; STABLE OUTLOOK

29 Apr 2004
MOODY'S ASSIGNS A2/P-1 ISSUER RATINGS TO NOVO NORDISK A/S; STABLE OUTLOOK

First-time rating

New York, April 29, 2004 -- Moody's Investors Service has today assigned an A2 senior unsecured long-term issuer rating and a Prime-1 short-term issuer rating to Novo Nordisk A/S. The rating outlook is stable.

According to Moody's, the A2/Prime-1 ratings reflect the group's following operating and financial strengths:

(1) The generally positive growth trends in the pharmaceutical industry -- in particular in the area of the treatment of diabetes -- the aging population in the western world and the increased spending on food in developing markets

(2) The high barriers to entry protect the insulin market's manufacturing know-how, marketing and sales infrastructure, delivery systems. These strengths should be further reinforced over time by the switch to analogues insulin which will offer patent protection to Novo Nordisk until next decade.

(3) The company's comprehensive range of products in the insulin market, its leadership in innovation for delivery systems and its global market position with further expected expansion in the US market.

(4) The patent-protected NovoSeven, the only efficient treatment for haemophilia patients with inhibitors, which could also potentially be used in other fields as a general haemostatic agent.

(5) Additional cash-flow derived from Novo Nordisk's franchise in the growth hormone therapy market.

(6) The research and development track record with a solid pipe-line of new drugs under development.

(7) The very solid financial structure -- especially in view of net cash positions -- and the satisfactory liquidity provided by cash balances and committed facilities, although these include standard Material Adverse Change conditions but no financial covenants.

However, Moody's also points out that Novo Nordisk's ratings are constrained by the following factors:

(1) The limited product diversification, with 70% of sales in diabetes-related drugs which represent around half of the group's operating profit.

(2) The comparatively weaker position in the US market, which is partly due to the low penetration of the pen systems in the US.

(3) More generally, Moody's believes that Novo Nordisk's focus on the insulin market implies some medium- and long-term business risk because of new product launches, evolution in treatments and the risk of new innovative treatments replacing insulin in the very long term.

(4) The exposure of the Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) business to sales erosion following recent studies, although this is mitigated by Novo Nordisk's focus on low-dosage products.

(5) The group's financial profile is also constrained by the moderate operating margins -- in particular in the insulin business -- a degree of currency exposure and the current relatively moderate free cash-flow generation capacity, which is largely linked to sustained capital expenditures programmes.

Moody's says that the stable rating outlook recognises Novo Nordisk's reasonably predictable cash-flow generation over the coming years, the strong balance sheet, the absence of patent issues in the near future as well as the conservative policy of the management. Moody's also expects the acquisition event risk to be moderate. Indeed, Moody's rating takes account some leeway for debt-financed acquisitions while large transactions would be expected to be financed by a portion of equity.

Headquartered in the Copenhagen area, Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a leading manufacturer of insulin, with strong market positions in the field of Growth Hormone therapy, treatments for haemophilia patients with inhibitors and HRT. The company recorded sales of DKK26.5 billion in 2003.

Paris
Eric de Bodard
Managing Director
European Corporate Finance
Moody's France S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456 SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Paris
Jean-Michel Carayon
Vice President - Senior Analyst
European Corporate Finance
Moody's France S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456 SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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