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Japan's Takeda forecasts rebound despite full-year profit drop

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A Takeda logo is seen in its research hub in Cambridge
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co said on Wednesday its 12-month operating profit slid 9.5%, although the country's largest drugmaker forecast a rebound for the current year.

Operating profit for the year that ended on March 31 came in at 461 billion yen ($3.54 billion), compared with 509.27 billion yen in the year-ago period, reflecting the absence of one-time gains seen in fiscal 2021, the company said.

That compares with the drugmaker's earlier estimate of 515 billion yen and a consensus forecast of 509 billion yen from a Refinitiv poll of 15 analysts.

The company, meanwhile, estimated the current fiscal year's operating profit to touch 520 billion yen.

Chief Executive Christophe Weber said that core operating profit, which strips out impairments and other non-recurring items, would likely exceed 1 trillion yen this fiscal year, and the company's financials would become clearer now that its 2019 absorption of Shire Plc is complete.

"Our story is getting much simpler, much clearer about our growth drivers," Weber said in an interview with Reuters.

Takeda is domestically producing the COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Novavax Inc, which was approved by Japanese regulators last month.

Japan has agreed to purchase 150 million doses, but prospects for the recombinant protein-type shot remains uncertain as the majority of its population has been already fully vaccinated.

Earlier this week, Novavax said it had shipped less than a fourth of the total COVID vaccine deliveries slated for 2022 and expected shipments to key markets and sales to increase in the current quarter.

Japan plans to ship just 100,000 doses of the Novavax vaccine throughout the country between May and June, a Cabinet official said recently, and sees the shot as filling a relatively minor role in its inoculation campaign for those who can not take mRNA type vaccines.

Weber acknowledged that the ultimate uptake of the Novavax vaccine in Japan is "very difficult to predict."

Since its 2019 takeover of Shire for $59 billion, Takeda has been under pressure to reduce debt and build out its drug pipeline to make up for the loss of patent protection of franchise drugs such as Vyvanse and Entyvio in the coming years.

The company's shares have lagged since the Shire purchase, but got a boost last year following an announcement of a buyback of 100 billion yen of stock.

Chief Financial Officer Costa Saroukos told Reuters future buybacks were "absolutely" possible as part of the company's capital allocation policy.

($1 = 130.3700 yen)

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Tom Hogue, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and by Louise Heavens)

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