Turns out, Bayer HealthCare's faltering even before Monsanto enters the fold

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Industry watchers have worried that Bayer's Monsanto deal could compromise its ambitions in the healthcare space. (Bayer)

Industry watchers were worried about Bayer neglecting its healthcare division after the company chased down a megamerger with agrochemical giant Monsanto. But that deal hasn’t even closed yet, and healthcare sales are already showing cause for concern.

Wednesday, the German drugmaker unveiled fourth-quarter pharma sales of €4.21 billion, 4% below consensus estimates. Only one of Bayer’s five key growth products—a group consisting of eye drug Eylea, anticoagulant Xarelto, pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment Adempas and cancer therapies Stivarga and Xofigo—beat analyst estimates for the quarter, and that was Eylea, which came out 5.2% ahead.

Xofigo missed its €106 million target with just €90 million in sales, while Stivarga managed just €77 million. Another key miss came from hemophilia treatment Kogenate, which checked in 11% below projections.

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Consumer health sales for the quarter also took a hit, thanks to China’s move to switch two skincare brands from OTC to prescription. The move precipitated a €70 million sales decline, Bernstein analyst Jeremy Redenius wrote in a note to clients.

Bayer’s 2018 outlook didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence, either. As Redenius put it, it “looks to be soft vs. consensus,” with the company expecting €16.5 billion in pharma sales—more than $1 billion less than the €17.6 billion analysts expected. On the consumer side, Bayer expects €5.5 billion, short of Wall Street’s €6 billion guess. And as far as earnings go, the Leverkeusen-based company expects its bottom-line tally for both units to decline by a single-digit percentages before special items.

RELATED: Bayer's $66B Monsanto buy spells bad news for its pharma ambitions: Analysts 

While Bayer’s consumer health segment has been struggling since 2014’s $14.2 billion fold-in of Merck’s OTC products, the pharma woes are newer. The company has touted big things ahead for the Eylea-Xarelto-Adempas-Stivarga-Xofigo group, even raising its guidance for the drugs in late 2016 to ease Monsanto-related fears.

But the third quarter didn’t exactly go as planned either—Redenius labeled those results “messy.” And with the Monsanto deal sapping funds that could have been used to develop Bayer’s pharma pipeline, that’s not a good sign.

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