UDG Healthcare has today reported a 17% increase in full-year earnings, driven mainly by acquisitions.

The company said its pre-tax profits for the year to the end of September rose by 17% to $118.9m, while group revenues increased by 13% to $1.219 billion.

The company also said today that its chief financial officer Alan Ralph would step down after almost 20 years with the group.

UDG, which provides outsourced sales and marketing, drug distribution and packaging services to healthcare companies, reported adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of 28.83 cents for the year ended September 30.

This compared with 24.78 cents a year earlier. 

The company said it expected organic growth to accelerate in the second half of 2018.

UDG's results were clouded by a temporary slowdown in its drug packaging business Sharp. Sharp, which made up over 33% of profit in 2016, reported an 8% increase in profit in the period. 
           
Weaker demand for its bottled packaging services affected Sharp's US business the most, somewhat diluting the strong progress enjoyed by its expanded biological packaging suite. 

But analysts said that Sharp's slowdown was temporary and growth was expected to pick up in 2019. 

Meanwhile, Ashfield, UDG's clinical and commercialisation services division which contributed to about 61% of the profit in 2016, reported a 16% growth in full-year profit.

Dublin-based UDG also today proposed a 7.5% increase in its final dividend to 9.72 cents per share.

UDG's chief executive Officer Brendan McAtamney said that 2017 was another year of strong growth at the company, with adjusted earnings per share increasing by 17%. 

He noted that all of the company's divisions delivered good underlying profit growth, supplemented by the benefit of acquisitions.
 
"We continued to transform UDG Healthcare, committing more than $270m to six transactions during the year," the CEO said 

"These acquisitions enhance and broaden the range of capabilities we offer our healthcare clients. We are well positioned to continue to deliver organic growth and our strong balance sheet will enable us to execute further strategic acquisition opportunities as they arise," he added.

"These acquisitions enhance and broaden the range of capabilities we offer our healthcare clients. We are well positioned to continue to deliver organic growth and our strong balance sheet will enable us to execute further strategic acquisition opportunities as they arise," he added.