Merck upbeat despite drop in profit

German chemical and pharmaceutical group Merck KGaA on Monday reported a sharp slump in quarterly net profit, but forecast higher earnings from its chemicals units and unveiled its first site in China.

Merck upbeat despite drop in profit
Photo: dpa

Merck said its third quarter net profit fell by 26.8 percent from the same period a year earlier to €148.1 million ($223 million), owing to poor results in liquid crystal production units and chemical divisions in general.

Sales gained 2.7 percent meanwhile to €1.94 billion. The company said earnings should now begin to pick up as well.

“Even in our chemical businesses, which were substantially impacted by the economic crisis, we see a clear trend toward recovery,” Merck chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley was quoted as saying.

He told a telephone news conference that Merck had bought the pigment producer Taizhu, giving the German company “an initial production point in China.”

Merck would reduce the number of workers on state-subsidised shorter working hours and expected to eliminate use of the programme by the end of the year, Kley added.

In the group’s pharmaceutical branch, sales gained 5.8 percent in the third quarter to €1.313 billion, in large part owing to stronger demand for the multiple sclerosis treatment Rebif, cancer drug Erbitux and fertility treatment Gonal-f.

For the full year, Merck forecast sales growth of around two percent.

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Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.