(Bloomberg) -- Novartis AG reported a 3.4 percent drop in first-quarter earnings as Europe’s second-largest drugmaker increases spending to roll out a new heart medicine and engineer a turnaround in its eye-care business.
Profit declined to $1.13 a share from $1.17 a share a year earlier, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said Tuesday. Analysts estimated $1.11 a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue fell 0.5 percent to $11.5 billion, compared with analysts’ projection of $11.6 billion.
Novartis is counting on newer treatments such as heart drug Entresto, psoriasis treatment Cosentyx and Kisqali for breast cancer to help offset a decline in sales of blockbuster Gleevec, which faces rising competition from cheaper copycat drugs. Higher investment to introduce those medicines was expected to put pressure on profit in the latest quarter, according to Jefferies LLC.
Novartis reiterated its January projection that sales this year will be largely unchanged from 2016. The company said earnings, excluding some expenses, will probably remain flat or decline by a “low single digit” percent in 2017 as its top-selling medicine Gleevec faces increasing competition from cheaper copycat drugs.
After more than a year of efforts to turn around its eye-care company, Novartis said Alcon’s growth plan is “on track.” The division’s core operating income, a measure of profit, slumped 23 percent to $187 million and sales fell 1 percent to $1.4 billion in the quarter. Earlier this year, Novartis said that it was considering all options for the struggling division, including a spinoff or initial public offering. The company expects to provide an update on its review by the end of the year.
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