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Sanofi profit slips on generic competition and currency effects

The logo of French drugmaker Sanofi is seen a the Sanofi Genzyme Polyclonals in Lyon

By Ludwig Burger

(Reuters) -Sanofi's first-quarter operating income fell 14.7% as currency effects and cheap competition to its multiple sclerosis drug Aubagio outweighed rising sales of anti-inflammatory drug Dupixent, the French drugmaker said on Thursday.

Operating income adjusted for one-offs slipped to 2.84 billion euros ($3.04 billion), a touch above the 2.79 billion euros expected by analysts in a poll on Sanofi's website.

The company reiterated that it expects 2024 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) to slip by a low single-digit percentage, excluding currency swings, citing higher taxes and an increase in development expenditure.

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Currency changes would drag 2024 earnings lower by between 5.5% and 6.5% at current rates, it added.

Finance chief Francois-Xavier Roger told a media call that the decline in the Argentine Peso was a particular drag on first-quarter overseas sales.

Quarterly sales of eczema and asthma drug Dupixent jumped a currency adjusted 25% to 2.84 billion euros, in line with analyst expectations and accounting for 27% of group sales.

CFO Roger, previously at Nestle, said that preparations to list the Consumer Healthcare division on the Paris stock exchange from the fourth quarter were fully on track but other options, such as a sale, were still possible.

Chief Executive Paul Hudson has been trying to regain battered investor confidence in the drug pipeline since he unexpectedly abandoned 2025 margin targets last October under a plan to boost drug development spending.

Analysts have said the recent market debuts of drugs including Beyfortus, to protect infants against a common respiratory infection, are indicative of the company's medium-term earnings prospects. Quarterly sales of Beyfortus came in at a better than expected 182 million euros.

($1 = 0.9338 euros)

(Reporting by Ludwig BurgerEditing by Subhranshu Sahu and David Goodman)