UPDATE 2-Actelion sticks to FY goals on strong Tracleer sales

* Actelion Q1 net profit 133 mln Sfr, short of estimates

* Tracleer sales rise 19 pct to 405 mln Sfr, beating poll

* Confirms 2010 goals

* Shares trade slightly higher, in line with sector

(Adds CEO interview, trader comment, adds shares)

By Katie Reid

ZURICH, April 22 (BestGrowthStock) – Actelion (ATLN.VX: ), Europe’s largest biotech
company, confirmed its full-year goals, as physicians continued to prescribe
heart and lung drug Tracleer.

Tracleer sales rose 19 percent in the first quarter to 405 million Swiss
francs ($379.6 million), ahead of analysts’ forecasts, as the pulmonary arterial
hypertension (PAH) market continues to grow, Chief Executive Jean Paul Clozel
told Reuters.

PAH is a chronic, life-threatening disorder affecting around 100,000 people
in the United States and Europe, and demand for treatment is rising as people
live longer with the disease, Clozel said in the interview.

But he cautioned that the sales growth seen in the first quarter was
unlikely to continue in the rest of the year as the base comparison becomes more
difficult.

At 0717 GMT, shares in the group were trading 0.3 percent higher at 47.64
francs, largely in line with the STOXX European healthcare index (.SXDP: )

“Tracleer is better, bottom line is lower on a one time charge, all in all a
neutral or maybe slightly positive, because Tracleer is more important than
bottom line,” one Zurich-based trader said.

GUIDANCE CONFIRMED

Actelion is on track to meet its full-year guidance, Chief Financial Officer
Andrew Oakley said in a statement, adding that Actelion’s strong balance sheet
meant it was also in a position to look at external growth opportunities.

The group is aiming for total net revenue growth in local currencies of more
than 10 percent, while non-GAAP EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) growth
is likely to be close to 20 percent.

Net profit at the group rose to 133 million francs, but trailed the average
estimate of 136 million francs in a Reuters poll as the weak euro weighed on
earnings. [ID:nLDE63F1I1]

Actelion, which is looking to broaden its use of Tracleer, hit a major
setback last month when the drug failed to cut mortality rates in patients
suffering from the fatal lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
(IPF).[ID:nLDE62004L]

Actelion had expected approval of Tracleer to treat IPF to double sales of
the drug, which brought in 1.5 billion francs last year.

The group is looking to cut its dependence on Tracleer, which loses its
patent protection in the next few years.

Actelion has said it is hopeful its sleep medicine almorexant, partnered
with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L: ), will get approved, despite a safety problem in a
late-stage trial.

Clozel said the group was currently in talks with the authorities to make
sure they had what they need for approval of the drug.

Actelion is trading at a premium to Roche (ROG.VX: ) and Novartis (NOVN.VX: ),
but at a discount to drugs industry supplier Lonza (LONN.VX: ), which confirmed
its outlook in its trading update on Thursday. [ID:LDE63K1M4]

Stock Analysis

(Additional reporting by Paul Arnold; Editing by Rupert Winchester)
($1=1.067 Swiss Franc)

UPDATE 2-Actelion sticks to FY goals on strong Tracleer sales