CSL Limited shares rise on profit increase and strong outlook

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The CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) share price rose as much as 2.3% today following the release of its most recent half-year report, before falling back to trade 1% higher.

In the six-month period ended 31 December 2015, CSL reported an 11% jump in revenue to $US3,056.3 million and a profit of $US718.8 million, up 3.8% on the prior corresponding period.

CSL Bering, the company’s flagship blood plasma business, reported a modest fall in operating profit, but the group’s Seqirus business, a non-plasma biotherapeutic product manufacturer formed by the combination of bioCSL and the Novartis influenza vaccines business, lifted operating profit 108% to $US531 million.

CSL delivered an exceptional first half result, led by double-digit sales growth in all of our plasma therapy groups,” CSL CEO, Paul Perreault, said. “In particular we saw strong demand for our immunoglobulin products with subcutaneous immunoglobulin therapy, Hizentra®, growing at 31% and intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, Privigen®, up 13%.”

Pleasingly, the company announced an unfranked interim dividend of $US0.58 per share, in line with 2014’s payout.

Looking ahead, Mr Perreault said the outlook for CSL remains promising: “2016 is an exciting year for CSL. The licenses for our novel recombinant coagulation products are currently under review, and pending approval, we plan to introduce these to the market later this year.”

Part of CSL’s success lies in its ability to reinvest in itself to earn great long-term returns. Mr Perreault said the company will continue that trend throughout 2016. In the first half of the year, the company spent the equivalent of 9.3% of sales revenue on R&D, compared to 8.5% last year.

Notwithstanding this additional expenditure and the current competitive market, I can reconfirm my previous guidance for FY16 of 5% profit growth at constant currency,” Mr Perreault said.

“This guidance does not include financials associated with the acquisition of the Novartis influenza vaccines business, which we anticipate will report a loss in the range of approximately US$90 – $120 million this financial year,” he added.

Foolish takeaway

CSL Limited appears to be still made of the right stuff. The company is continuing to draw debt and buy back shares (it bought back $235 million worth during the half). However, with strong cash flows and growing product lines, it appears to be a savvy capital management decision.

While investors should always avoid overpaying for shares, I think CSL is a company worthy of a spot on watch lists.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Owen Raszkiewicz owns shares of CSL. Owen welcomes -- and encourages -- your feedback on Google+, LinkedIn or you can follow him on Twitter @ASXinvest.

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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