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Novartis posts another record result

Novartis recorded the eighth record result in a row Keystone

Switzerland’s top pharmaceutical company, Novartis, reported a smaller than expected rise in net profit last year despite the eighth record result in a row.

This content was published on January 20, 2005 - 08:10

The company said the 15 per cent increase in net profit to $5.8 billion (SFr6.9 billion) was driven by strong all-round operating performance.

Analysts had predicted a slightly better result due to Novartis’ strong drug development pipeline, in particular its fast growing cancer and cardiology franchises.

Novartis, the world’s sixth-largest drug maker, recorded above-market sales to $28.3 billion (SFr33.5 billion), an increase of 14 per cent over the previous year.

“I think people thought there would have been a slightly stronger margin trend in the fourth quarter,” said Paul Diggle, an analyst with Code Securities in London.

The company also had fewer patent expiries.

Novartis says restructuring costs involving its generics unit had a slight negative impact on profit figures.

Optimistic outlook

The company predicted further record sales and profits in 2005.

“Despite challenging industry conditions, our outlook for 2005 remains strong and we expect to deliver again a competitive performance with record sales and strong earnings,” a statement said on Thursday.

Chief executive Daniel Vasella said he expected the pharmaceutical industry market to grow by about seven per cent this year.

He added that Novartis would continue to look to consolidate its position but said it had no major deals in sight.

Last year European rivals rebuffed a Novartis bid to take over the French pharmaceutical company, Aventis.

Novartis has a one-third voting stake in the Switzerland’s second biggest pharmaceutical company, Roche, but repeated overtures to merge have been rejected.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Novartis, the world’s sixth biggest pharmaceutical company, was created in 1996 through a merger of Ciba and Sandoz.
It has a staff of about 78,500 people in over 140 countries of the world.
Net profit Novartis Group 2004: $5.8billion (SFr6.9 billion)
Sales Novartis Group 2004: $28.3 billion (SFr33.5 billion)

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