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Rating Action:

MOODY'S SAYS RATING OUTLOOK FOR JAPAN'S PHARMACEUTICAL SECTOR STABLE

03 Feb 2004
MOODY'S SAYS RATING OUTLOOK FOR JAPAN'S PHARMACEUTICAL SECTOR STABLE

Tokyo, February 03, 2004 -- Moody's Investors Service says the rating outlook for Japan's pharmaceuticals companies is stable for the next few years as several conflicting factors are apparent.

First, market growth is experiencing pressure from continued government-prompted downward price revisions and reform of the health-care system, Moody's says in a new report on the outlook for the sector. Furthermore, domestic competition is strengthening as new drugs debut and as global companies strengthen their sales force.

At the same time, the large Japanese pharmaceutical companies rated by Moody's have on average raised sales 14% and operating profits 34% over the last 5 years, mainly due to higher overseas sales of their main products, the rating agency says in its report.

The report, entitled Japanese Pharmaceuticals Industry Outlook: Stable as Competition Intensifies with New Drugs and Increased Presence of Global Companies, is authored by Shinsuke Tanimoto, a Moody's Assistant Vice President / Analyst.

"The Japanese companies are maintaining strong credit profiles as their main domestic and overseas products show high levels of profitability. Additionally, their business franchises in the domestic market are solid and their balance sheets healthy," the report says.

"Moody's expects them to preserve their credit profiles by strengthening R&D activities, improving product portfolios and restructuring business portfolios, despite the challenging nature of the domestic market," it adds.

Pharmaceutical companies rated by Moody's are Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd., P-1, Stable; Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Aa3, Stable; Sankyo Company, Limited, A1, Stable; Eisai Co., Ltd., A1, Stable; Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., A1, Stable; Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., A2, Stable; Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., A2, Stable; Tanabe Seiyaku Co., Ltd., A3, Stable; Shionogi & Co., Ltd., A3, Stable; and Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co., Ltd., Baa2, Negative.

The report cautions that the growing market sizes of their main products could raise concentration risk for product portfolios, while the expanding contribution of overseas sales could raise the volatility of their financial performances due mainly to market competition and patent expirations.

To deal with these issues and achieve sustainable growth in the medium- and long-term, the companies must improve - on a global basis - their competitiveness in research, development and marketing.

The report notes that the performances of Japan's successful pharmaceutical companies have been achieved in large part through product growth abroad and demonstrates that a product with the potential for large oversea sales can significantly drive performance.

While the growth of the domestic pharmaceuticals market slows, global players have increased spending on management resources for the Japanese market, the report says.

"The global players consider the Japanese market as strategic and over the last few years have introduced key products into it as well as expanded their local marketing forces," the report says, adding that Japanese companies have in response recently started to increase their sales forces.

Regarding financial conditions, Moody's says that the profitability of Japan's pharmaceutical companies is generally high although the companies spend 10%-20% of revenues on R&D.

They also exhibit strong levels of excess liquidity and their policies on returns to stockholders remain conservative. Strong balance sheets and conservative financial policies help mitigate their relatively high levels of business risk.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For a copy of the Moody's report, please contact New York Press Information +1-212-553-0376; London Press Information +44-20-7772-5456; Paris Press Information +33-1-5330-1073; Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid +34-91-310-1454; Benedicte Pfister in Milan +39-02-58-215-585; Hector Lim in Sydney +612-9270-8102; Juergen Berblinger in Frankfurt +49-69-707-30-700; Tokyo Press Information +813-5408-4110; Hilary Parkes in Toronto +1-416-214-1635; Hong Kong Press Information +852-2916-1150; Luiz Tess in São Paulo +55-11-3443-7444; Benito Solis in Mexico City +525-261-8784; or Reynold Leegerstee in Johannesburg +27-11-217-5471 or visit our web site at www.moodys.com.

Tokyo
Shinsuke Tanimoto
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

Tokyo
Takahiro Morita
Managing Director
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

No Related Data.
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