JOHANNESBURG South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare Holdings reported a 23 percent drop in full-year profit on Wednesday as heavy losses from its Venezuelan business and a weak performance in its home market weighed on earnings.
The firm has been expanding rapidly outside South Africa, where a heavily regulated pharmaceuticals market has put a cap on growth, and in its latest push announced this week it would buy GlaxoSmithKline's portfolio of anaesthetic drugs for $370 million.
Sales in South Africa were down 1 percent to 8.1 billion rand (427 million pounds) and now represents 23 percent of the firm's revenue.
Aspen, which earlier this month also concluded a deal to take AstraZeneca's anaesthetics brands outside the United States, has positioned itself to ramp up sales outside its home market Chief Executive Stephen Saad said.
"We are now looking for economies of scale," said Saad, adding that the company was adding products, such as the anaesthetics, that fit in with its therapeutic platform.
The latest acquisition has boosted its sales force in China to more than 600 people, which Saad sees as a key market.
Aspen said headline earnings per share (EPS) fell to 889 cents in the year to end-June, compared with 1,149.9 cents a year earlier.
Headline EPS is the main profit measure in South Africa and strips out certain one-off items.
Excluding a 870 million rand ($60.76 million) write down charge in Venezuelan operations, headline EPS would have grown by 10 percent, Saad said.
Shares in Aspen were up 2.5 percent at 344.22 rand by 1320 GMT, recovering from a drop of 1.7 percent before its results.
(Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Louise Heavens)