(Updates with details, quotes)
LJUBLJANA, March 22 (Reuters) - Higher sales helped Slovenian generic drug producer Krka post a preliminary 2017 group net profit of 152.6 million euros ($187.9 million), up 41 percent from 2016.
Krka, Slovenia’s largest listed company with market capitalisation of about 1.9 billion euros, said sales rose to 1.3 billion euros from 1.2 billion a year before.
In 2016, its profit was badly hit by depreciation of some Eastern and Central European currencies, particularly the Russian rouble. In that year Krka’s profit fell by 31.5 percent.
In Russia, Krka’s largest market, 2017 sales rose 20 percent, while sales in Tajikistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan also rose sharply, by 22 to 30 percent.
In Western Europe, where Krka sold 22.6 percent of its production, sales increased by 1 percent.
Krka confirmed its November forecast for 2018 profit of 153 million euros on sales of 1.3 billion euros.
The company said it would increase staff this year by about 2 percent to some 11,200.
Its shares rose by 0.35 percent to 57.6 euros by 11.27 GMT, after the results were released.
$1 = 0.8121 euros Reporting by Marja Novak Editing by Robin Pomeroy