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Sigma share price down 15 per cent

NEAL WOOLRICH: Generic medicine is a $2 billion a year business in Australia and growing. But the industry has attracted a swarm of new entrants who've been discounting heavily to capture market share.That's eating into the profits of incumbents like Sigma Pharmaceuticals, which has reported first half earnings of $30 million, down by 39 per cent on last year. The results saw Sigma shares tumble by 15 per cent during the day, although they recovered most of that to closeWoolrich parkas 2.7 per cent lower.JOHN KESSELL, AEGIS EQUITIES RESEARCH: I think what really surprised and I would say shocked the market today was the outlook statement given by Sigma that its fullyear earnings would tend to be around 13, 14 per cent below last year's understood lying net profit level.NEAL WOOLRICH: Sigma Pharmaceuticals concedes it's a disappointing result but is optimistic that the worst of the price war is over.ANDREW HEINE, SIGMA PHARMACEUTICALS:

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We think that's stabilised now and the one thing that puts us in a stronger position moving forward is that our pipeline predominantly comes from Sigma manufactured generics, which means we have higher margins. Traditionally the Arrow business premerger was generic products that were licensed which obviously minimised our margin.ELMO DE ALWIS, CEO, SIGMA PHARMACEUTICALS: All the major molecules are coming off patent are covered by,Woolrich hats included in our pipeline and we will certainly be launching them, which will give us incremental growth from that source and we're looking to continued market share again which we have in the last three or so years, two and a half years.NEAL WOOLRICH: The interim results includes an expense for the pharmacy loyalty program Embrace.

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More than 1000 chemists have signed up to the program which offers discount if they stock more Sigma products. Woolrich john rich But so far, less than a quarter of Sigma's wholesale customers have met their quotas.JOHN KESSELL: So there's a lot of room for them to improve that, as well as to increase the penetration of pharmacies that sign up to the Embrace program. They are spending an increased amount of promotional costs on the Embrace program at the current time and over time, you would expect to see a greater performance from that program.NEAL WOOLRICH: Sigma has also failed to capitalise on takeover opportunities. Last year Australian pharmaceutical injuries rejected Sigma's approach and in June Sigma's bid for parts of Symbion Health suffered a similar fate. But the company remains on the lookout for possible deals.ELMO DE ALWIS: In terms of acquisitions, the criteria that we look for, they're related too our core business, so we certainly don't want to stray away from that. Woolrich Outlet Store We look for acquisitions that are accretive from the moment they are purchased, that there are synergistic opportunities, that there are opportunities for us to manufacture and to distribute them to our existing customer base.JOHN KESSELL: I think in general, after today's result and with the challenges that they're facing in both the generics and the distribution business, that there should be a redoubled effort to focus on those businesses.NEAL WOOLRICH: John Kessell says Sigma could pursue the right opportunities if they came along like the Symbion consumer products division. But that deal is ruled out for the time being with Sigma barred from making a bid on Symbion until February leaving Health Scope in the box seat to renegotiate with Symbion.

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