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Novartis profits jump 12% on new drug sales

Novartis/AFP

Novartis/AFP

ZURICH, Jan 27- Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis said Tuesday strong sales of new products helped push its net profit up 12 percent last year despite harsh competition from cheaper copycat generic drugs.

During 2014, the Basel based company said its net profit rose to $12.7 billion, while sales rose one percent year on year to $57.9 billion.

The results were largely in line with expectations, with analysts polled by the AWP financial news agency anticipating a net profit of $12.7 billion on sales of $58.1 billion.

“2014 was a transformational year for Novartis,” the group’s chief executive Joseph Jimenez said in the earnings statement.

Sales in the company’s core pharmaceuticals division slipped one percent once converted to dollars, but inched up one percent in constant currencies, to $31.8 billion.

Volumes in this division rose seven percent while prices saw a one percent hike, the company said.

This helped offset losses from sales of competing cheaper generic drugs. Novartis’s blood pressure pill Diovan is facing stiff competition from a cheaper variant produced by Indian firm Ranbaxy.

“We delivered solid sales growth with margin expansion, strengthened innovation, and advanced our quality and productivity agendas. I’m confident that we are positioned for future success,” Jimenez said.

The company is banking on new offerings such as an anti-heart failure treatment LCZ696 to help ward off competition from generics.

Novartis forecast a sales increase of five percent for this year at constant currencies and said it hoped a sweeping asset swap with British giant GlaxoSmithKline would be concluded by March 31.

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The deal will see Novartis acquiring GSK’s oncology products while divesting its vaccines to the British group and creating a joint unit for consumer health products.

The company said it would raise dividend to 2.60 Swiss francs per share for 2014, a six percent growth over the previous year.

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