Drug firm Novartis mulls options for Alcon amid flat 4Q net

Health CareAssociated Press

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis says it is considering options for its Alcon eye-care products division, and announced plans to increase its dividend by 2 percent and buy back $5 billion worth of shares this year.

The Basel-based firm made the announcements Wednesday as it reported flat net income in the fourth quarter, as competition from generic rivals cut into the market for its standout chronic myeloid leukemia treatment Gleevec.

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Novartis said that fourth-quarter net income fell to $936 million, from $1.05 billion in the same quarter a year ago, in dollar terms. But income was flat in constant-currency terms. Net sales slipped 2 percent to $12.3 billion.

Novartis projected 2017 sales "broadly in line" with those of last year, and projected a $2.5 billion impact from generic competition this year.