By Alexander Hübner and Caroline Copley
BERLIN (Reuters) -German health technology company Siemens Healthineers has raised its full-year sales and profit forecast for the second time this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive demand for its rapid antigen tests.
Makers of diagnostic tests, including rivals Roche and Becton Dickinson, are benefiting from strong demand for testing as countries try to contain infection waves and rely on testing to start opening up parts of society.
Healthineers now expects sales to increase 14% to 17% in the year to September, while adjusted basic earnings per share are forecast at 1.90 euros to 2.05 euros versus an earlier forecast of 1.63 euros to 1.82 euros.
The upbeat outlook reflects booming demand for the company's COVID-19 rapid tests, which are mainly sold in Germany and generated sales of 190 million euros ($228 million) in the company's second quarter, which runs from January to March.
Healthineers said it now expects rapid antigen test revenue of around 750 million euros for its full fiscal year, up from 300 million to 350 million forecast previously.
But the company expects profit accretion to decline in the later part of its second half as tests become cheaper and demand falls once more people are vaccinated.
Comparable sales in the January-March period, Siemens Healthineers' fiscal second quarter, rose almost 13% to 3.965 billion euros. Net income increased by 8% to 447 million euros.
Makers of medical-imaging gear are seeing pent-up demand from hospitals, which delayed ordering in the earlier stages of the pandemic. Dutch rival Philips posted a hefty jump in quarterly profit last week.
But Chief Financial Officer Jochen Schmitz told reporters a recovery in the Varian business, which Healthineers bought for $16.4 billion to expand its cancer care business, would be delayed as hospitals focus on treating COVID-19 patients.
Shares in Healthineers rose 1.1% to 48 euros by 0912 GMT.
($1 = 0.8319 euros)
(Reporting by Caroline CopleyEditing by Riham Alkousaa, Vinay Dwivedi and Jane Merriman)