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Novartis misses estimates but hikes dividend

Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014 | 12:13 PM ET
2014 will be a strong year for Novartis: CEO
Wednesday, 29 Jan 2014 | 1:50 AM ET
Joe Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, confirms the company's 2014 outlook, saying sales growth will be in the mid-single digits in the "worst case scenario" that there is generic competition to its blood pressure pill Diovan "relatively soon".

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis missed market expectations with its full-year results on Wednesday but announced a rise in its dividend.

Net income for the Basel-based multinational came in at $2.06 billion, against estimates of $2.4 billion in a Dow Jones poll. Sales also missed predictions with a figure of $15.078 billion against $15.092 billion. Core earnings per share came in at $1.20 versus $1.28 in a Reuters poll.

(Read More: Novartis lifts guidance for second quarter in row)

Novartis states that the results showed "strong sales and innovation" through the whole of last year adding that its underlying business performance reinforces its growth prospects. Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, said the firm had still managed to deliver growth in both net sales and core operating income.

"We maintained good momentum in innovation," he said in a press release on Wednesday. "Our growth products continued to expand, rejuvenating our portfolio and reinforcing our growth prospects."

Shares were 0.7 percent higher in morning trade on Wednesday.

FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP | Getty Images

(Read More: Siemens posts 20% rise in net profit)

The group proposed a 7 percent increase in its dividend for 2013. For 2014, it sees net sales growing in the low to mid-single digits and expects core operating income to grow ahead of sales.

Novartis plans to ax around 500 jobs, according to a report last week by Reuters, with the closure of a U.S. plant that makes its blood pressure pill Diovan. The drug lost its patent rights in the United States in 2012, leaving it open to copycat versions.

However, a delay of this generic competition for Diovan monotherapy in the U.S. helped net sales for the year, Novartis announced in its earning release.

Jimenez told CNBC that it was testament to the company that it was still able to innovate despite these $2 billion losses in patents. It said its outlook for 2014 were based on a "worst-case scenario" that these copycat drugs would be on the market in the second quarter.

"If it doesn't launch the numbers will be actually better than that," he said.

Jimenez said that Novartis was seeing promising growth in emerging markets despite currency headwinds. He said they were now accounting for 25 percent of total sales and saw 10 percent growth in the last quarter with Russia and China being the most successful markets.

By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch. Follow him on Twitter @mattclinch81

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