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Novartis reports good growth but cautious on 2011

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis says turnover was up 14 per cent in 2010 to $50.6 billion (SFr47.8 billion).

Net profit for the year was $9.969 billion, up 18 per cent compared with 2009.

However, fourth quarter profit was down six per cent due to a decline in influenza vaccine sales. The company also warned that price cuts, United States healthcare reform and generics were likely to dampen sales growth this year.

Fourth quarter net income dropped to $2.17 billion from $2.31 billion a year earlier, the Basel-based company said on Thursday.  

“Novartis achieved excellent results in 2010 as all divisions contributed to above-market growth,” said CEO Joseph Jimenez in a statement. “In addition, our agreed 100 per cent merger with Alcon, which should complete in the first half of 2011 following shareholder approval, will give us an important new growth pillar.”

The drugmaker last year wrapped up its buyout of eyecare group Alcon.

Analysts say Novartis is looking to Alcon, the Sandoz generics unit, vaccine sales and over-the-counter products to lessen the company’s dependence on prescription drugs.

Sales growth this year will be “around the double-digit mark” at constant currency rates, the company said. Growth in pharmaceuticals revenue will be in the low to mid single digits, hurt by price reductions in 2010, the “full impact of healthcare reform in the US” and generic competition.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR