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(Bloomberg) -- Novartis AG, the world’s biggest drugmaker by sales, said revenue growth will resume this year, with earnings gains exceeding sales increases, after reporting fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates.
Net sales will rise by a mid-single-digit percentage with core operating income jumping by a high single-digit rate, Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis said in a statement today.
Chief Executive Officer Joe Jimenez is seeking growth from new drugs for psoriasis and heart failure as sales of the off- patent blood pressure pill Diovan decline and the cancer drug Gleevec starts facing generic competition next year. Jimenez is also reshaping the company by selling off the animal health and vaccines divisions, buying GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s cancer business and cutting administrative costs.
Last year “was a transformational year for Novartis,” Jimenez said in the statement.
Fourth-quarter net income excluding some items rose to $2.91 billion, or $1.21 a share, from a revised $2.89 billion, or $1.18, Novartis said in the statement. Analysts forecast profit of $1.19 a share, the average of 12 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Year-earlier figures were adjusted to exclude the blood-transfusion diagnostics division.
Sales in the three-month period fell 2 percent to $14.6 billion as Diovan lost ground to generic competition from Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.
Novartis shares slumped 14 percent over two days this month after the Swiss National Bank unexpectedly announced on Jan. 15 that it was ending a three-year-old policy of capping the franc at 1.20 euros. The drugmaker’s stock rose 1.8 percent to 87 francs yesterday in Zurich trading.
The company last week won U.S. approval for the psoriasis drug Cosentyx, which analysts predict will garner more than $1 billion by 2019. Novartis expects approval this year for LCZ696 to treat heart failure, which will become the company’s best- selling drug by 2019 with sales of $3.6 billion, according to analysts’ estimates.
Novartis said in April it would buy Glaxo’s cancer unit for as much as $16 billion, while selling its vaccines business, excluding flu shots, to the London-based company for $7.1 billion. Novartis also sold its animal-health unit to Eli Lilly & Co. for $5.4 billion, and its flu vaccines business to Australia’s CSL Ltd.
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