German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, maker of Aspirin, said on Friday it was optimistic about business this year after meeting key targets in 2013. "We met important business objectives in our anniversary year," chief executive Marijn Dekkers told the group's annual earnings news conference. "We are optimistic for 2014 and plan further growth in sales and earnings," Dekkers said. Last year, Bayer's net profit rose by 32.7 percent to 3.189 billion euros ($4.4 billion). Underlying or operating profit, as measured by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), advanced by 1.5 percent to 8.401 billion euros. And revenues were up 1.0 percent at 40.157 billion euros, "a new record in our company's 150-year history," Dekkers said. Growth was driven primarily by the group's so-called "life sciences" businesses, healthcare and agro-chemicals, it explained. "Healthcare achieved pleasing gains with its recently launched pharmaceutical products, while crop science was very successful in a positive market environment," Bayer said. "Overall, we achieved our operational targets in the life science businesses despite substantial negative currency effects." By contrast, business in its material science division "continued to be affected by a difficult market situation," it said. Looking ahead, Bayer said it expects sales to increase by about 5.0 percent to 41-42 billion euros in 2014 and operating profit was projected to rise by "a low- to mid-single-digit percentage", it said.