Bayer said on Thursday its third-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) came in at 2.01 billion euros (1.5 billion pounds), edging past the average estimate of 1.96 billion euros in a Reuters poll.
Adjusted core earnings at the CropScience unit rose by more than a quarter to 278 million euros, shored up by growth in recently launched products, in particular fungicides and herbicides.
Bayer now aims to raise group EBITDA before special items by a mid-single-digit percentage, taking into account the acquisition of Merck & Co. Inc.'s consumer health business it wrapped up on Oct. 1 as well as more favourable currency effects.
It had previously forecast a low to medium single-digit percentage gain.
The euro was up slightly against the U.S. dollar on average over the third quarter but the European currency has lost about 8 percent against the dollar over the last six months, bolstering the euro-value of overseas revenues.
Bayer, the inventor of Aspirin and maker of Yasmin birth-control pills, said pharmaceuticals sales rose by a currency- and portfolio-adjusted 10.3 percent to 3.04 billion euros, boosted by a better-than-expected 70 percent gain of sales in anti-clotting drug Xarelto, mainly used to prevent strokes in the elderly.
"Healthcare performance was okay, but the beat was really driven by CropScience, an area where we had concerns," analysts at brokerage Berenberg said in a note.
The shares gained 3.5 percent at 0830 GMT, outperforming a 1 percent gain in the STOXX Europe 600 Health Care index.
Bayer shares have advanced 7.6 percent over the past three months, outperforming the 2.3 percent gain in the European sector benchmark, as investors welcomed the company's plan to split off and separately list its plastics division.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Kirsti Knolle and Maria Sheahan)