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Samsung Biologics' Jan.-Sept. margin surpasses profit for whole of 2019

CEO Kim Tae-han of Samsung Biologics (Samsung Biologics)
CEO Kim Tae-han of Samsung Biologics (Samsung Biologics)
Samsung Biologics marked an operating profit in the first three quarters of 2020 of more than double its entire yearly performance of 2019, proving it has been undamaged and even buoyed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has largely slashed earnings across various industries.

During the three months of July through September, Samsung biologics made revenue of 274.6 billion won ($242.4 million) and an operating profit of 56.5 billion won, according to the accumulated third quarter report on Wednesday. Compared to the same quarter of 2019, this was a revenue increase of 49 percent and an operating profit jump of 139 percent.

In accumulated figures from the first quarter through the third quarter, Samsung Biologics marked revenue of 789.5 billion won and operating profit of 200.2 billion won. To add perspective, for all of 2019, the company made revenue of 701.6 billion won and a yearly operating profit of 91.7 billion won.

Samsung Biologics has been one of the rare beneficiaries of the COVID-19 pandemic’s blow to global business.

Being a contract developer and manufacturer organization for biologics drugs, the company received orders from an unprecedented number of foreign pharmaceutical firms seeking to preemptively secure offshore manufacturing capacity should they successfully hammer down a viable vaccine or treatment for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Samsung Biologics cited the increased operation of its three plants as enabling 2020 to be a record-setting year for the company.

As a CDMO, Samsung Biologics boasts a special standing in its field globally. With manufacturing capacity of 30,000 liters at its plant No. 1, 154,000 liters at plant No. 2 and 180,000 liters at plant No. 3, the company can output a staggering 364,000 liters of biologics agents in a single generation.

For manufacturing companies like Samsung Biologics, how much use they make of their plants is a critical element to their performance. Plants are expensive to maintain, and if they don’t churn out profit, it quickly leads to losses. That makes winning contracts a key part of manufacturing firms’ healthy business portfolio.

In August, CEO Kim Tae-han of Samsung Biologics announced that the company would enlarge its facility by yet another plant capable of producing even greater amounts of biologics materials at 256,000 liters. The decision is a telltale sign that the company’s existing plants have nearly reached full capacity and the rising demand from clients is prompting Samsung Biologics to make the necessary investment.

As of Wednesday, Samsung Biologics had nabbed more than $1.4 billion in total contract deals, almost 2.5 times the company’s revenue in 2019.

The company has openly shared that the deals are with Immunomedics, GSK, Cilag CmbH International, H. Lundbeck, Cytodyn, AstraZeneca, Checkpoint Therapeutics and two unspecified Swiss companies and another two unspecified US companies.

On a strong streak, Samsung Biologics has already begun building the fourth plant this year and plans for it to partially begin operation by end-2022. The company also launched a research and development center in San Francisco where it seeks to find more clients with strong early-stage novel drug pipelines.

As of the third quarter, Samsung Biologics has assets of 6.13 trillion won, capital of 4.49 trillion won and outstanding debt of 1.63 trillion won.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (