Sanofi

Sanofi

Revenues 2012: €34.947 billion (about $46.412 billion)
Revenues 2011: €33.389 billion (about $44.342 billion)

When Sanofi ($SNY) was staring down the barrel of generic competition for big sellers Lovenox and Plavix, CEO Christopher Viehbacher decided his company needed a bigger safety net. Its pharma division couldn't rely solely on internal R&D to fill those multibilllion-euro gaps.

CEO Chris Viehbacher

So, Sanofi spread out. The French drugmaker snapped up generics companies in Brazil, Mexico and the Czech Republic, and a vaccines maker in India. It snagged full ownership of Merial, its animal health joint-venture with Merck ($MRK). It bought Chattem, a U.S. consumer health company. And in 2011, it bought Genzyme, a U.S. biotech specializing in rare-disease treatments. The idea was to escape the tyranny of the patent cliff by profiting on everything from already-off-patent meds to biologics so difficult to copy that patent expirations couldn't be an automatic death knell. Sanofi laid down some €24 billion ($33 billion) on that theory, with 23 buyouts and 91 licensing deals over the past four years.

Viehbacher took the reins at Sanofi in December 2008. Its sales for that year amounted to €27.568 billion, or about $38.37 billion. It ranked sixth among its Big Pharma peers. Subtract billions in sales lost to generic competition, and add in the fruits of those many acquisitions, and you'll see Sanofi at the end of 2012, with almost €35 billion in net sales, and fifth on that list of drugmakers.

Evaluate Pharma figures that, by 2018, as its M&A pays off and new drugs launch, Sanofi will climb to second place in the pharma business. That's provided, of course, that it all unfolds as planned. And this is a crucial year. When Sanofi announced its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings, the numbers fell a bit short of expectations, and investors were even less impressed by its 2013 forecast, which allowed for stagnant sales for the first half and a "return to growth" later in the year.

True to the company's plan, its new "growth platforms" span the globe and the health business, with emerging markets, animal health, consumer healthcare and diabetes--plus Genzyme--now accounting for 70% of sales, up from about 62% in 2011. If anything, Sanofi plans to diversify even more, via digital services and patient support, to become more of a healthcare company than a drug company.

For more:
Sanofi rebuilds early-stage R&D strategy in thriving Boston/Cambridge hub
Corks pop at Sanofi as FDA nixes Novo's Lantus challenger
Swamped with generics, Sanofi rides Lantus to dry land
Light ahead for Sanofi, CEO says, after not-so-bad Q3
Sanofi CEO: Look out below, profits are falling

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