Novo Nordisk cuts sales forecast

'Focus' key amid healthcare M&A: Novo Nordisk CFO

Danish insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk has posted 15 percent growth in operating profit in local currencies in the first quarter of this year but cut its sales outlook for 2014.

Operating profit came in at 8.0 billion Danish krona ($1.48 billion) from 7.56 billion krona a year ago, slightly above a Reuters poll forecast for 7.87 billion Danish krona.

Read MorePfizer's AstraZeneca offer may reach $93 per share

The group saw sales grow 2 percent from this time last year. It also lowered its sales forecast for 2014 as a whole following a slower start to the year, shares traded over 3 percent lower after the results.

An employee works on a high speed production line of insulin at a factory of Novo Nordisk.
Jean-Francois Monier I AFP I Getty Images

Read MoreAstraZeneca CEO: M&A 'often disruptive'

"We are pleased to reiterate our expectations to operating profit growth for 2014 despite a challenging start of the year and a lower outlook for sales growth," said CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen.

Sales of a new insulin drug Tresiba reached 80 million krona in the first quarter of this year compared to 9 million krona at the same time last year.

Sales growth for 2014 is now expected to be 7-10 percent measured in local currencies, in part driven by Tresiba. But the group also expects sales to be countered by a combination of intensifying competition within both diabetes and biopharmaceuticals and macroeconomic conditions.

It expects operating profit to grow around 10 percent this year.

Speaking on the huge mergers and acquisition activity seen in the pharmaceutical sector, chief financial officer, Jesper Brandgaard told CNBC Novo Nordisk's success has been down to its "focused strategy".

"It is always interesting to be in a sexy sector, but I think our focus and the success of Novo Nordisk has always been based on a very focused strategy. We have almost 80 percent of our turnover coming from our core therapeutic area, diabetes," said Brandgaard.

"Our core focus has been diabetes care, focus has worked extremely well for Novo Nordisk and I don't necessarily think that bigger is better," he added.