You could get a headache trying to name all of Bayer's products. The company, which created aspirin in 1897, makes pharmaceuticals, OTC drugs, and animal health care products through Bayer HealthCare, plastics and high-performance specialty materials via Bayer MaterialScience, and crop protection and home garden care items through Bayer CropScience. Aside from Bayer Aspirin, the company's best-known consumer brands include Aleve, Alka-Seltzer, and One-A-Day vitamins. Its top selling pharmaceuticals include multiple sclerosis treatment Betaseron and birth control pill YAZ. Also known as Bayer Group, the firm has some 300 operating subsidiaries worldwide; it operates in the US through Bayer Corporation.
The majority of Bayer's sales come from European countries (roughly 40% of revenues) and North America (about 25% of sales), and most of the company's core manufacturing facilities are in Germany and the US. Bayer markets over 5,000 products through a global sales and distribution network. Offerings from its largest division, the HealthCare segment, are distributed primarily through wholesalers and pharmacy chains, while MaterialScience and CropScience products are sold through wholesalers and regional distributors.
Bayer is growing all three of its core businesses by enhancing its strong positions in key markets, as well as by expanding into emerging geographic areas and investing in innovative technologies. Within its HealthCare division, which accounts for just about half of its annual sales, the company's growth strategy includes making targeted acquisitions, entering into licensing and development deals with other pharmaceutical companies, and performing in-house research and development. To counteract the effect of weakened sales in Europe and North America, the HealthCare Pharmaceuticals segment is working to expand drug marketing efforts in China, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and other high-growth markets. In 2010 the HealthCare segment also opened a new R&D center in China.
Acquisitions in the health arena include US subsidiary MEDRAD's 2011 purchase of Pathway Medical Technologies to expand its arterial disease therapies, as well as the Animal Health division's purchase of New Zealand firm Bomac Group in 2010 to widen its drug offerings for agricultural animals. The company has high hopes for candidates in its internal R&D pipeline, such as its newly introduced blood thinner Xarelto (which gained FDA approval in 2011) and several new women's health offerings. It has also entered into numerous collaboration agreements to boost its R&D programs in recent years, including a partnership with Genzyme to co-develop and promote multiple sclerosis drugs and one with Onyx Pharmaceuticals to work on cancer medicines.
Bayer's growth measures in its two other core segments, MaterialScience and CropScience, include the construction of new manufacturing and production facilities in the US, Europe, and Asia. The MaterialScience unit expanded its distribution operations in Russia in 2011 through a joint venture with German firm ALBIS Group. The CropScience unit acquired Hornbeck Seed, a maker of plant breeding products, in 2011 and AgraQuest, a California-based supplier of biological pest management solutions, for $425 million in 2012. Bayer places a significant amount of focus on R&D efforts within its MaterialScience and CropScience divisions to be able to provide a broad range of crop solutions based on seeds, traits, chemical crop protection, and biological pest and disease control.
All of the company's growth measures paid off when Bayer's sales rose in 2010 and 2011. The company also improved its net income figures in 2011; however, declining income levels over the previous few years -- caused by economic difficulties, competitive conditions, and other factors -- have led Bayer to conduct some cost-control and restructuring measures. Such measures also include efforts to integrate a number of purchases made during a period of heavy acquisitive growth from 2005 through 2008.
After instituting some production expense cutbacks within its MaterialScience division in 2009, the unit returned to expected growth levels in 2010. However, increased generic competition for branded HealthCare and CropScience products, including the YAZ birth control pills and certain herbicides, caused lower-than-expected results within those divisions in 2010. Additional restructuring efforts to resolve the troubles include 2011 measures to streamline and consolidate some of the Bayer HealthCare facilities, especially in Germany and the US. In addition, the firm has divested some noncore CropScience product lines.