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Bayer, the German chemicals and pharmaceuticals conglomerate, had what it described as a “very successful start” to 2017, solidly beating analysts expectations for its first quarter with growth across all sectors of its business.

It posted first quarter sales of €13.24bn, up 9.4 per cent compared to last year on a constant currency basis, and earnings before interest, tax and depreciation and special items of €3.89bn, up 14.9 per cent. Analysts had expected sales of €12.6bn and ebitda before special items of €3.5bn.

Net income increased by almost 40 per cent to €2.1bn.

Performance was driven by “very good business development” at its pharmaceuticals unit, and “significant increases in sales and earnings” at Covestro, its former materials science division which now has a separate stock exchange listing. Bayer sold down its stake in Covestro last month from 64 per cent to 53 per cent.

Pharmaceuticals have been a consistent driver of results at the company in recent quarters, raising concerns as the unit is due to become a smaller part of the business once the group completes its acquisition of Monsanto, the seed and crop giant, later this year.

The group credited the performance at Covestro, which remains significantly smaller than its pharmaceuticals, consumer health and crop sciences divisions, as it raised its outlook for 2017.

Bayer said it now expects sales for the year of €51bn rather than €49bn and ebitda before special items to grow by a “low teens percentage” rather than a “mid-single digit percentage”.

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