With record year, Samsung Biologics bucks CDMO industry's troublesome 2023

Last year proved a challenging year for contract manufacturers across the board, but Korea’s Samsung Biologics appears to have bucked the losing trend by charting what it called an “exceptional" performance.

In the fourth quarter, Samsung reeled in 1.07 trillion Korean won (about $802 million), growing sales 11% over the same period in 2022. For the full year, Samsung grew sales 23.1% to 3.69 trillion Korean won ($2.8 billion), the company said in an earnings release Wednesday.

Also last year, Samsung Biologics became Korea's first domestic biopharma firm to generate 1 trillion won in annual profit, Business Korea reports. The 2023 result marks another revenue record for the CDMO giant, which has enjoyed fast growth over the last 8 years, according to Companies Market Cap.

Samsung Biologics credited the “exceptional” performance to the ramp-up of operations at its massive Plant 4 in Songdo, South Korea, plus a “robust” sales backlog.

In 2023, the company amassed contracts worth over $12 billion by expanding partnerships with 14 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies, Samsung Biologics added.

After the 2023 performance, Samsung Biologics said its outlook “remains strong." The company expects 10% to 15% annual revenue growth for 2024.

"Despite the challenging environment, we remain optimistic, anticipating continued growth driven by sustained partnerships, expanded capacity, and strategic portfolio diversification in the coming year,” Samsung Biologics' CEO, John Rim, said in a statement.

Much of Samsung Bio’s success hinges on its roster of facilities, which the company has continued to grow and expand despite economic trials.

With plant 4 now fully operational, the facility is expected to contribute approximately 30% of the company's drug substance manufacturing business revenue by 2025.

What’s more, Plant 5, which is set to become the first facility of the company’s second Bio Campus, is slated to begin operations in April 2025, five months ahead of its original construction timeline.

Samsung Bio is also standing up a separate antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) facility, which it expects to come online this year.

The company appears to have triumphed in a year when other CDMOs struggled.

Late last year, Chinese manufacturing upstart WuXi Biologics warned that the contract manufacturing field was in a rut, warning that the industry had slowed to single-digit growth in 2023 compared to roughly 15% growth in previous years.

At the same time, the company said it expected to miss its original sales target for the year by around $400 million, thanks to reductions across its development and manufacturing services.

The story has been much the same over at Germany’s Merck KGaA, which warned of a challenging 2023 at the top of last year and logged a “strong organic sales decline” in its contract manufacturing and testing services business during the second quarter.

Catalent, too, struggled last year, delaying its earnings report several times early in the year. The move came shortly after the company said manufacturing hang-ups at three major plants would hamper third-quarter earnings and dampen Catalent’s outlook for the entire fiscal year.