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06 Jul 2006
MOODY'S UPGRADES EISAI'S ISSUER RATING TO Aa3 FROM A1; OUTLOOK STABLE
Tokyo, July 06, 2006 -- Moody's Investors Service has upgraded to Aa3 from A1 Eisai Co.,
Ltd.'s (Eisai) issuer rating. This rating action reflects
Moody's expectation that the company will continue improving its profitability
and, due to its conservative financial policy, maintain its
strong balance sheet. The rating action also incorporates the company's
improved pipeline due to its effective R&D activities. The
rating action concludes the review initiated on May 19, 2006.
The outlook is stable.
Eisai has continuingly strengthened profitability, mainly supported
by its two globally marketed products, Aricept and Pariet (sold
as Aciphex in the US). The company's consolidated operating profit
increased to 95.7 billion yen in fiscal 2005 from 75.9 billion
yen in fiscal 2002. Its equity ratio also strengthened to 69.5%
from 65.6% due to earnings retention.
Eisai announced in March 2006 its medium-term management plan,
"Dramatic Leap Plan," for fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2011. The
plan calls for the company to concentrate its resources into its two clinical
franchises, cancer and neuroscience, and reform its profit
and loss structure by strengthening its independent marketing activities
and shifting operations, such as manufacturing and research,
to highly cost-advantaged areas.
Revenue from Aricept has continued to grow because the drug has kept its
leading position in the expanding Alzheimer's disease market, in
spite of increasingly severe competition from other brand-name
products. On the other hand, growth for Pariet/Aciphex has
slowed because of the proton pump inhibitor (PPI) market's maturity and
increased competition from generic and over-the-counter
(OTC) drugs in the US.
Although Eisai's growth may slow to some extent because of severe competition
in its key product areas, Moody's expects the company to strengthen
its profitability over the intermediate term as it continues to grow Aricept
sales and reform its profit and loss structure.
At the same time, Moody's is aware of the concentration risk evident
in Eisai's product portfolio. The combined revenue from Aricept
and Pariet/Aciphex accounted for approximately 58% of consolidated
fiscal 2005 revenue, and the US patents for the two products will
expire in 2010 and in 2013, respectively.
On the other hand, Eisai has strengthened the two products' competitiveness
through life cycle management, such as by applying for additional
formulations and indications. The company has also introduced late-stage
products, such as Zonegran and Inovelon. In addition,
it has successfully advanced promising drug candidates, such as
E-2007 and E-7389, into late stage clinical development.
Moody's believes that Eisai's clinical pipeline and product portfolio
have improved due to its effective R&D activities. At the same
time, Moody's views as an important rating factor the company's
further strengthening of its pipeline to offset the potential impact of
the patent expirations of its major products and to achieve sustainable
growth and profit stability in the long run.
Eisai maintains strong liquidity and a solid financial position as a result
of its conservative financial policy. At the end of fiscal 2005,
it had 194.2 billion yen in cash and securities, far exceeding
its 0.4 billion yen in debt. It has maintained a net cash
position for more than 10 years. Moody's expects Eisai to maintain
its strong balance sheet to prepare for potential business risks and opportunities,
while increasing dividend payments and meeting investment needs.
Eisai Co., Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo,
is a leading pharmaceuticals company in Japan.
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100
No Related Data.
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