FRANKFURT (dpa-AFX) - Unclear prospects continue to dampen Evotec's share price on Wednesday after the latest figures. The pharmaceutical drug researcher and developer recorded a weaker start to the year, but above all the future strategy is causing uncertainty in the market.

Analysts continue to recommend the share as a buy, but investors tend to hold back. The share price was once again volatile in the morning and hovered around the previous day's closing price. By midday, the share price was unchanged in percentage terms at 9.54 euros.

The Hamburg-based company's shares, which are listed in the MDax, are still unable to counter the drastic price losses of the past: As recently as the end of April, it had plummeted to its lowest level since 2017 at 8.52 euros. Since the beginning of the year, the company has lost more than half of its share price (55%).

Despite this - or precisely because of this - 13 experts surveyed by the Bloomberg news agency recommend buying the share, not a single one recommends selling. The Canadian bank RBC, for example, left its rating at "outperform" with a target price of 16 euros. Thanks to the Just Evotec Biologics division, the drug researcher performed better than expected in the first quarter, wrote analyst Charles Weston.

The analyst firm Jefferies also maintained its "Buy" rating with a price target of 16 euros. Sales exceeded expectations, but earnings fell short of them, wrote analyst Benjamin Jackson. The focus will be on the drug discovery company's outlook in mid-August, when the new CEO Christian Wojczewski is on board. Evotec appointed Wojczewski as its new CEO on July 1.

The analyst firm Warburg Research also maintained its "Buy" rating for Evotec with a target price of EUR 18. As expected, the first quarter was not a price driver, wrote analyst Christian Ehmann. However, slightly higher-than-expected sales were a ray of hope. For the rest of the year, however, the drug researcher's profitability still needs to pick up in order to meet earnings expectations. In view of well-filled order books and initial restructuring measures, however, the stage is set.

At Evotec, both sales and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell in the first quarter. However, the company confirmed its guidance and expects double-digit percentage growth in Group revenues and adjusted EBITDA for 2024.

Evotec announced a comprehensive realignment, including adjustments to its size and locations. However, the associated uncertainties are apparently preventing the share price from taking off. Although the management confirmed the outlook for the current year, this is to be reassessed once Wojczewski is on board as the new CEO. One trader said in the morning that there were still too many question marks./lfi/ajx/stk