Novartis's Sales, Profit Surpass Expectations -- Earnings Review

By Sonia Amaral Rohter Features Dow Jones Newswires

Novartis AG (NOVN.EB) on Wednesday reported its fourth-quarter results. The company will host a conference call at 2 pm CET. Here is how the results came in:

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SALES: The Swiss pharmaceuticals company had fourth-quarter sales of $12.92 billion, exceeding a consensus estimate of $12.79 billion, and up from $12.32 billion in the same period a year earlier.

PROFIT: Net profit for the period was $1.98 billion, up from $957 million during the year-earlier period. After-tax profit for the fourth quarter was also $1.98 billion compared with analyst expectations of about $1.88 billion. After-tax profit for the same period last year was $936 million.

WHAT WE WATCHED

CAR-T: Novartis said that the U.S. launch of its CAR-T therapy Kymriah "progressed well" in the fourth quarter and included Kymriah among its key growth drivers. The company said that 33 treatment centers have now been certified to provide the gene therapy, 25 of which are fully operational. Novartis didn't break out sales figures for Kymriah or discuss its pricing strategy for current or future indications.

ALCON: Analysts were on the lookout for any information concerning Novartis's plans for eyecare unit Alcon and were checking to see whether the division was able to continue its turnaround story in the fourth quarter. Sales at Alcon, which has been undergoing a strategic review since early 2017, grew 8.3% in the quarter to $1.56 billion, and Novartis said that it expects net sales growth in the low-to-mid single digit range for the division in 2018. Novartis made "significant progress" in its review and reiterated that sales growth and margin improvement over multiple quarters were still the key criteria for a final decision, which should not be expected before the first half of 2019.

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ENTRESTO AND COSENTYX: Novartis is counting on its newer drugs, particularly heart-failure drug Entresto and psoriasis treatment Cosentyx, to drive growth and help offset revenue lost to generic competition, so analysts were keen on seeing how these assets performed. Entresto sales more than doubled to $185 million in the quarter and reached $507 million for the year, slightly exceeding the full-year target of $500 million given in Novartis's third-quarter conference call. Cosentyx "reached multi-blockbuster status," Novartis said, with sales of $615 million in the fourth quarter and $2.07 billion for the year.

Write to Sonia Amaral Rohter at sonia.amaralrohter@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 24, 2018 06:29 ET (11:29 GMT)