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(Bloomberg) -- Novartis AG reported a smaller decline in second-quarter profit than analysts had projected amid early signs of a revival at its Alcon eye-care division and as new medicines helped offset the eroding sales of its biggest drug Gleevec.

Novartis amended its outlook for Alcon, saying it expects low “single digit” percentage growth for 2017 sales. In April, the company had said the unit’s revenue may be unchanged from the previous year or grow slightly. Profit dropped to $1.22 a share from $1.23 a share a year earlier, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said in a statement on Tuesday. Analysts had estimated $1.18 a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Novartis is turning to newer medicines such as heart drug Entresto, psoriasis treatment Cosentyx and Kisqali for breast cancer to help counter a decline in sales of its blockbuster Gleevec, which is facing rising competition from cheaper copycat drugs. Chief Executive Officer Joe Jimenez has pledged to investors that a new phase of expansion will start in 2018.

Earlier this year, Novartis said that it was considering all options for its struggling Alcon eye division, including a spinoff or initial public offering. The company has said it expects to provide an update on its review by the end of the year.

Revenue in the latest quarter slumped 2 percent to $12.2 billion, matching analysts’ projection.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Paton in London at jpaton4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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