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Wockhardt prescribes 1:2 bonus, higher dividend

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Mr Habil Khorakiwala, Chairman, Wockhardt, at a press conference to announce the company's results in Mumbai on Thursday. - - Shashi Ashiwal

Mumbai , Feb. 12

WITH a net profit growth of 300 per cent in the fourth quarter alone, Wockhardt Ltd on Thursday said that calendar year 2003 ended with a 36-per cent growth in net profit at Rs 143 crore. Having missed the Rs 1,000-crore mark, the company ended the year with consolidated annual sales of Rs 980 crore, a growth of 21 per cent.

At a media interaction, following the board meeting, Mr Habil Khorakiwala, Chairman, Wockhardt, said the board had proposed an issue of bonus shares on the basis of one new share for every two existing shares and an enhanced 75 per cent dividend. It also recommended splitting the face value of shares from Rs 10 to Rs 5, subject to the approval of shareholders.

"The bonus and share split will boost liquidity and marketability of shares. We look to maintain the dividend on an enhanced equity next year," he said.

The Q4 net profit was the highest in any quarter, with the company clocking a net profit of Rs 50 crore on a turnover of Rs 297 crore. "The performance in Q4 was partly because of better field activity, besides an overall improvement in the quarter," he said.

Wockhardt's international business, at 57 per cent of total sales, was largely on the back of the US and the European Union operations. Only in last July, the company had acquired the UK-based CP Pharmaceuticals and it also contributed to Wockhardt's performance, the Chairman said.

While the process of integration and rationalisation of CP Pharmaceutical's operations was already underway, he said that there were no plans to discontinue any of their brands. "We will look at the licenses that have already been filed by the company and review their viability," he added.

Meanwhile, more action was on the cards in the UK market with the company looking at creating a subsidiary — Wockhardt UK Ltd, and subsequently bringing CP Pharma and Wallis (another of its UK subsidiaries) into one consolidated entity. This was expected to happen over the next three months and till such time the company would continue with both the brands, he said.

The company is looking to file about 15 abbreviated new drug applications this year as compared to six last year. Some of them would be patent challenges, he said and added that he was confident about the products.

The domestic market, he said, saw an improved performance following the corrective action the company has taken in the past. "We have taken a hit last year due to our rationalisation process. But this year will show a robust growth, both in the domestic and international markets," he said.

Acquisitions were still on the cards, he said, when ever an opportunity presented itself.

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