Pharma shares rally; Alembic, Sun Pharma, Laurus Labs hit 52-wk highs

Analysts do not see any significant business impact on the pharma sector due to COVID-19
Shares of pharmaceutical companies extended their winning run to Friday after Alembic Pharmaceuticals reported robust earnings for the quarter ended March 2020.

Besides Alembic Pharma, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Laurus Labs also hit their respective 52-week highs on the BSE today. Strides Pharma Science, Alkem Laboratories, Ajanta Pharma, Lupin, Ipca Laboratories, Jubilant Life Sciences and FDC were up in the range of 5 per cent to 10 per cent on the BSE.

At 12:31 pm, the S&P BSE Healthcare index was up 2 per cent, as compared to 0.59 per cent decline in the S&P BSE Sensex. The healthcare index hit a fresh 52-week high of 15,503 in intra-day trade today.

Alembic Pharma's consolidated profit before tax (PBT) more than doubled to Rs 298 crore in the January-March quarter (Q4FY20), on the back of healthy revenue. The drug maker had a PBT of Rs 139 crore during the same quarter in the previous fiscal. The company's total revenue during the quarter under review grew 30 per cent year-on-year at Rs 1,207 crore against Rs 927 crore in the corresponding quarter of previous year. The company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) margin expanded 900 basis points to 28 per cent from 19 per cent in the previous fiscal.

The management said the company has recorded highest ever revenue and profit for a financial year. This was led by strong growth in the US generics business. During the fourth quarter the company saw India and rest of world (ROW) business also get back to a robust growth, it said.

Analysts do not see any significant business impact on the pharma sector due to COVID-19 related global supply chain issues as most of pharma companies had stocked up enough inventories for the quarter, any impact would be set-off by INR depreciation vs USD & strong pre buying.

“The Q4FY20 is expected to be a strong one for the Indian Pharma Industry mainly due to panic buying in the domestic market, international orders for drugs like Hydroxychloroquine, Oseltamivir etc (although only couple of weeks of March) & other essential medicines to fight COVID-19 & the related demand for respiratory, antiviral & other chronic drugs,” analysts at KRChoksey Shares and Securities said in pharma sector Q4FY20 preview.

Most of the Indian pharma companies saw spike in export orders, which coupled with favorable currency movement (appreciation of 5.9 per cent & 3.6 per cent in USDINR & EURINR during the quarter) will positively impact the topline growth, it said.

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