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Swine Flu Vaccine

Novartis Q1 seen hit by absence of flu drug sales

By Katie ReidZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis AG <NOVN.VX> is likely to be the latest drugmaker to show it too has been hit by a collapse in sales of pandemic flu medicines when it posts its first-quarter results on Tuesday.But the group, which has just closed its buy of eyecare group Alcon , is still expected to show robust demand for its other drugs and investors will be keen to see how its recently launched multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya, is fairing."We expect Novartis to continue to show that all divisions are performing well, despite the tough comparison with first quarter 2010 owing to the absence of $1.1 billion of swine flu vaccine sales this year," analysts at RBS said.Despite the fall in swine flu sales, Novartis is expected to post a 13.8 percent jump in first-quarter sales to $13.8 billion, according to the average estimate in a Reuters poll.Core earnings per share is seen slipping 3.4 percent to $1.40 as the strong Swiss franc weighs on its bottom line.Cross-town rival Roche <...

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