CSL jumps as it focuses on getting better bang for buck from plasma

By Emma Koehn

CSL plans to boost the amount of vital antibodies it extracts from human blood plasma to make its medicines as it seeks to counter rising collection costs seen throughout the pandemic.

Chief executive Paul McKenzie told investors and analysts on Tuesday that the biotech giant will be making tweaks to its processes as part of a strategy to maximise its yield of immunoglobulins – the key part of blood plasma needed to make its medicines.

“It will involve proprietary process improvements… [and] this will give us a step change in the mount of Ig [immunoglobulin] we extract from every litre we collect,” he said.

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

McKenzie laid out the new strategy after the $127 billion ASX company told investors that blood plasma – which is the vital part of many of its life-saving therapies – has finally started flowing again, with the company seeing volumes climb by 31 per cent to record levels after years of disruption through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news helped lift the healthcare sector on Tuesday, with CSL shares up 4.1 per cent to $273.68 just after midday. Fellow biotech and medtech stocks Cochlear and Pro Medicus also surged, with Cochlear shares up by 6 per cent to $247.10 after revealing a profit jump.

But as CSL had previously warned, the company faced challenging macroeconomic conditions in the financial year to June 30 that pushed its net profit down 3 per cent to $US2.19 billion ($3.4 billion).

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 had a 9 per cent rise in sales to $US2 billion, and 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 also looking at other measures to become more efficient, including managing the costs of blood plasma collection.


“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 receive a final dividend of $US1.29 per share, to be paid on October 4, which brings to total payout for the year just passed to $US2.39, up 6 per cent.

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Source: Thanks smh.com