Sigma first-half profit falls

By a staff reporter, with AAP

Sigma Pharmaceuticals Ltd says it continues to operate in a challenging environment after posting a fall in first-half profit, but expects a stronger second half and will look to the new federal government to provide greater certainty in the sector including limiting further changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

At the official 1015 AEST official market open, Sigma shares were 0.39 per cent higher at 63.75 cents, against a modest benchmark index lift of 0.02 per cent.

The group's net profit after tax attributable to members fell 37.6 per cent to $16.3 million in the six months ended July 31, 2013, compared with $26.1 million in the previous corresponding period.

Sales revenue rose 3.1 per cent to $1.46 billion in the half, compared with $1.42 billion in the first half of 2012.

The group paid an interim dividend of two cents per share, fully franked.

The profit result was affected by one-off costs including a legal settlement and a doubtful debt relating to one of Sigma's customers, Harrisons Group, which has been placed into receivership.

Sigma chief executive officer Mark Hooper said the group "has delivered a solid performance in a difficult trading environment with PBS growth virtually non-existent and retail conditions subdued".

He said Sigma's initiatives to grow sales include the Amcal and Guardian e-commerce platforms launched in mid-2013, and increasing the products in its private range.

The group said the sales revenue increase was achieved in a period when further PBS price reforms have been implemented by the government.

Sigma owns the Amcal, Amcal Max, and Guardian pharmacy brands.