Sales up at Novartis

Daniel Vasella, chairman and chief executive of Novartis Keystone

Novartis boosted nine-month group sales 11 per cent in Swiss francs and 13 per cent in local currencies to SFr23.7 billion ($14.5 billion) as flagship pharmaceuticals sales advanced an underlying 15 per cent.

This content was published on October 11, 2001 - 09:22

The Swiss healthcare group reiterated on Thursday that it was on track to post record 2001 results as drug sales continue to generate double-digit growth rates and net financial income matches last year's level despite difficult conditions on financial markets.

Analysts had expected sales to rise by around 11 per cent growing to between SFr23.5-23.65 million.

Recovering from years of lacklustre performance, Novartis drug sales had risen a brisk 13 per cent in the first half and bettered that in the third quarter. Drug sales in the huge and growing US market alone leapt 31 per cent in the latest quarter.

US businesses healthy

"Our sustained growth momentum has been driven by the outstanding performance of our US businesses, in particular primary care and oncology," chairman and chief executive Daniel Vasella said. "We are on track to meet expectations in 2001 despite the difficult economic and political climate."

Apart from the 15 per cent increase in sales at its pharmaceutical division, Novartis also reported a 20 per cent increase for its generics division over the first nine months of 2001 and a five per cent improvement for the consumer health division.

Only the animal health division saw sales slip lower, down 6 per cent.

All figures are adjusted to reflect only continuing operations after the spin-off of its agribusiness last year.

The results "look good. I was impressed with the performance, particularly in the United States which is still very good," said Nicolas Dunant, analyst with Banco del Gottardo.

Sales growth expected

Novartis had said in August that it was confident it would keep drug sales growing at the industry average despite regulatory setbacks to two potential blockbusters, but added it would be more difficult than first thought to generate double-digit growth next year and in 2003.

Novartis did not give an outlook for drug sales growth beyond this year and stuck to its forecast of double-digit growth for pharmaceuticals for this year.

In the first six months of the year the Basel-based company managed to increase first-half net profit by a better than expected 10 per cent to SFr3.73 billion ($2.25 billion), as sales at the drugs division rose by 13 per cent.

swissinfo with agencies

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