Biocon Ltd, India top biotechnology company, reported a 4 percent drop in quarterly profit due to higher energy costs and rise in wages, but said strong demand from branded formulations offered opportunities for growth.

The company, which licenses its insulin products to Pfizer for global sales, said consolidated net profit fell to 857 million rupees ($17.5 million) in the fiscal second quarter ended Sept. 30 from 892.2 million rupees a year ago.

The drop was in line with market expectations after Bangalore-based Biocon had divested in April its German arm Axicorp, which had contributed 73 million rupees to the profit in the same month a year earlier.

We expected the Axicorp divestment would improve the company's operating margins but higher costs have actually impacted the company's performance, Siddhant Khandekar, analyst at ICICI Direct, said.

Energy costs rose 14 percent to 226.8 million rupees, while expenditure on employees soared 34 percent to 778.3 million rupees, the company said.

Shares in Biocon, which have shed 17.3 percent this year compared with an 11.7 percent fall in the benchmark healthcare index, were subdued in a weak Mumbai market.

Licensing and developing fees worth 365 million rupees helped lift consolidated quarterly sales by 21 percent to 5.08 billion rupees, the company said.

Branded formulations segment jumped 37 percent, while research services business grew 20 percent, it said.

The global economic outlook is challenging at the moment. Nevertheless, I believe that the Biocon Group will continue to deliver broad-based growth in the second half, Chairman and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said in a statement.

NEW PRODUCTS TO DRIVE SALE

Biocon's newly launched insulin injection device INSUPen and active pharmaceutical ingredient fidaxomicin are products the company is looking forward to boost sales, the company said.

There has been better-than-expected offtake in fidaxomicin, an anti-bacterial drug, and Biocon is focused on improving operational efficiencies to meet the increased demand, it added.