Merck KGaA (Merck) has reported a decline in financial performance for the fiscal year 2023, with net income attributable to shareholders falling by 15.1% to €2.82bn ($3.07bn), compared to €3.326bn in the previous year.

Earnings per share (EPS) also saw a decrease of 15.2% to €6.49 from €7.65 in 2022.

Group net sales experienced a downturn of 5.6% to €20.99bn from €22.23bn in 2022.

The company has cited foreign exchange effects, particularly from the US dollar and the Chinese renminbi, as having a negative 4.1% impact on sales.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, a key financial indicator for business operations, also dropped by 15.6% from €6.50bn in 2022 to €5.48bn.

Despite these declines, Merck maintained a stable dividend of €2.20 per share for both 2023 and the preceding year.

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The Life Science business sector’s sales and earnings in fiscal 2023 were significantly influenced by two market factors.

Sales linked to Covid-19 plummeted from approximately €800m in the previous year to around €250m, as anticipated.

Additionally, the core business of Process Solutions experienced a slowdown due to inventory destocking by key customers, leading to fewer new orders and an overall organic sales decline in the core business of Life Science of around 2%.

Science & Lab Solutions, a business unit that provides products and services to support research, diagnostics and testing activities and accounts for half of Life Science’s net sales in fiscal 2023, witnessed an organic sales decline of 0.6%.

The healthcare business sector, on the other hand, saw an organic sales increase of 8.5% in fiscal 2023. Despite negative foreign exchange effects of 5.8%, sales in this sector rose overall by 2.7% to €8.05bn.

Merck CEO Belén Garijo stated: “We delivered solid results in a transitional year 2023 despite difficult market conditions, demonstrating the robustness of our businesses. Our diversified business will continue to benefit from the attractive market growth opportunities also in the medium term.

“Now we are fully focusing on gradually returning to growth during fiscal 2024 while defining our strategic roadmap to ensure long-term profitable and sustainable growth for Merck.”