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Bayer sees Q4 net profit fall to $490 million after birth control pill lawsuit charges

FRANKFURT – Charges for lawsuits over its birth control pills weighed on Bayer AG’s earnings once again during the fourth quarter of 2012.

The German company said Thursday it made a net profit of €374 million ($490 million) during the period, compared with €397 million the previous year.

The company booked €455 million in charges during the quarter due to current or anticipated lawsuits in the United States over claims of injuries from blood clots associated with its oral contraceptives.

The profit fall masked a 7.3 per cent rise in sales to €9.86 billion.

For the full year, net income declined 1 per cent to €2.45 billion while sales rose 8.8 per cent to €39.8 billion.

Aside from the problems with the contraceptives, the company said its business was doing well, with sales rising across the three basic divisions: prescription and over-the-counter drugs, farm chemicals and seeds, and synthetic materials such as polyurethanes, adhesives and coatings.

Excluding the lawsuit expenses, earnings before interest, taxes and other financial factors rose 9 per cent to €8.24 billion.

Bayer has said it will raise its dividend for 2012 to €1.90 per share from €1.65 amid optimism over the coming year. It forecast a percentage increase in operating earnings in the mid-single digit range.

Bayer shares rose 2.6 per cent to €75.71 in morning trading in Europe.