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Lonza ups dividend payout as 2016 earnings grow YOY

Lonza Group Ltd. is raising its dividend payout after reporting an increase in 2016 earnings.

The company's board proposed a per-share dividend of CHF 2.75 for 2016 which would compare to the CHF 2.50 paid in 2015.

Lonza reported CHF 443 million in core profit for the year, up 24.4% from 2015. On a per-share basis, the company reported core earnings of CHF 8.38 compared to CHF 6.76 for 2015.

The result beats the S&P Capital IQ normalized EPS consensus estimate of CHF 8.24.

Lonza's 2016 results were driven by the pharma and biotech segment which saw its sales grow by 15.9% year over year to CHF 1.85 billion.

Lonza itself generated CHF 4.13 billion in 2016 sales revenue, an increase of 8.7% from 2015. The company reported CHF 918 million in 2016 core EBITDA, up 15.8% year over year.

Core results exclude exceptional items for the year. Accounting for those charges, the Swiss biotech booked CHF 301 million, or CHF 5.69 per share, in 2016 profit, an increase of over 8% year over year.

Lonza will target core EBITDA of CHF 1 billion during 2017. The company is also expecting to close the Capsugel acquisition this year.

In separate news, the company said Thomas Ebeling is stepping down from the board. Lonza has nominated Albert Baehny to take over Ebeling's position at the upcoming annual meeting.

Baehny is the former chairman of the Geberit Group, a Swiss manufacturer and supplier of sanitary products. Subject to his election, Baehny will also be appointed Lonza's vice chairman.