SHARES in CSL touched a record high yesterday, as the blood plasma and vaccine company announced yet another share buyback and reaffirmed guidance for 12 per cent annual profit growth.
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Speaking at its annual meeting, chairman John Shine said CSL would buy back another $900 million of shares, or 4 per cent of issued capital, over the next year.

The Melbourne-based company also reaffirmed its forecast of 12 per cent profit growth this financial year, taking annual revenue to $US5 billion.

Speaking at his last AGM, chief executive and managing director Brian McNamee drew attention to CSL’s growth since he joined Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in 1990. CSL is now capitalised at $24 billion and recently reported its first $US1 billion profit, on $US4.6 billion of revenue.

”We certainly believe internally that the milestone of achieving $US1 billion NPAT [net profit after tax] was a significant milestone for the company. When many of us look back at where we started from, obtaining a billion dollars in revenue was certainly a significant achievement,” Dr McNamee said.

His comments came after UBS healthcare analysts Andrew Goodsall and Dan Hurren boosted their rating on CSL to ”buy” from ”neutral”, with an increased share-price target of $52. In a note to clients titled ”Upgrade FY14 – it’s all about the volume”, the pair tipped CSL would outperform industry plasma growth, leading to a 3 per cent increase in earnings a share.

Dr McNamee said after the AGM he intended to take on a new role in 2014, after handing over the top job to Paul Perreault mid next year.

Mr Perreault is president of CSL’s biggest revenue earner, plasma product arm CSL Behring.

The departing CEO was lauded by Professor Shine, the Australian Shareholders Association and retail shareholders for his ”outstanding qualities” and ”brilliance” at the 85-minute meeting, held at the National Tennis Centre.

CSL shares closed 2.1 per cent, or 97¢, higher yesterday at $47.71.

They are 49 per cent higher in the year to date, well above analysts’ 12-month price target of $44.52, according to Bloomberg.

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