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(Reuters) - Mylan Inc raised its full-year earnings forecast, buoyed by rising generic drug sales in North America, and said it could be interested in acquiring specialty drugs to counter an expected slowdown in generic sales growth after 2013.
The expiry of patents on several blockbuster drugs stretches through 2016, but the biggest drugs will have lost their patent protection by next year.
Mylan, one of the world's largest generic drugmakers with more than 1,100 products, has not made a big acquisition since 2007, when it bought Germany's Merck KGaA's generics business for $6.6 billion.
Mylan is looking at acquiring companies that make injectables, topicals and dermatology products, Chief Executive Heather Bresch said on a conference call with analysts.
"I think in 2013 they start slowing down on the North American business and in 2015 they have got a generic EpiPen coming from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, and that could be a meaningful impact on earnings," Louise Chen of Guggenheim Securities said.
Mylan has a whole host of drugs, but if they do an acquisition, then people can forecast growth over a couple of years instead of looking at it just on a quarterly basis, Chen added.
The company currently derives about 16 percent of revenue from its specialty drug business.
The generic drugmaker, which has a market value of $9.72 billion, is already involved in developing respiratory and biologics products. It also has a branded injectable anti-allergen product called EpiPen.
Mylan has marketable securities and cash and cash equivalents of $365.9 million as at September 30.
Mylan raised its full-year 2012 adjusted earnings forecast to between $2.50 and $2.60 per share, up from $2.45 to $2.55.
Analysts expect 2012 earnings of $2.52 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company posted an adjusted third-quarter profit of 83 cents per share, beating Wall Street estimates of 77 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Total revenue rose nearly 15 percent to $1.81 billion, but fell short of analysts' expectations of $1.85 billion.
The company's generic revenue jumped 10 percent to $1.5 billion in the third quarter, as the expiry of patents on several blockbuster drugs expand the market for generics.
Sales in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region fell 7.2 percent to $325.6 million in the third quarter, hurt by price cuts in Europe and foreign exchange rate fluctuations.
Excluding the effects of a strengthening U.S. dollar, sales in the EMEA region rose 3 percent, helped by sales growth in France and Italy.
"Many of our European markets realized increased sales, an encouraging sign that the region may finally be turning a corner," CEO Bresch said on the call.
Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Gary Nachman said it was encouraging to see growth in Mylan's non-U.S. revenue.
"That has been something people have been nervous about. It looks like at least Europe has stabilized and is now starting to grow," Nachman said.
Sales in North America rose 19.2 percent to $837 million. Research and development spending jumped 53 percent in the quarter.
Shares of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania-based Mylan were up about 4 percent at $24.88 in afternoon trade on the Nasdaq. They touched a year-high of $24.94 earlier in the day.
Reporting By Pallavi Ail in Bangalore; Editing by Rodney Joyce, Roshni Menon