Novartis says on track for 2018 growth despite Sandoz weakness

  • The company's core operating profit rose 7 percent to $3.541 billion, compared with average forecast of $3.46 billion in a Reuters poll. Sales climbed 5 percent to $13.158 billion compared with forecast of $12.92 billion.
  • Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan is counting on sales and profit to rise this year as Cosentyx accelerates and as Alcon, which he plans to spin off next year to investors, recovers from a years-long slump.
The Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.
Arnd Wiegmann | Reuters
The Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis said on Wednesday sales and profit rose in the second quarter, as demand for its psoriasis-and-arthritis medicine and heart-failure drug offset weakness at the Sandoz generics unit.

The company's core operating profit rose 7 percent to $3.541 billion, compared with average forecast of $3.46 billion in a Reuters poll. Sales climbed 5 percent to $13.158 billion compared with forecast of $12.92 billion.

As the demand for its psoriasis-and-arthritis Cosentyx drug and heart-failure medicine Entresto rose, the company confirmed 2018 outlook, lifting expectations for its Alcon eye-care business. However, Novartis lowered forecast for Sandoz as pricing pressure on its U.S. pills business takes a toll.

Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan is counting on sales and profit to rise this year as Cosentyx accelerates and as Alcon, which he plans to spin off next year to investors, recovers from a years-long slump.

"We made significant progress this quarter to transform Novartis into a focused medicines company," Narasimhan said. "Operationally we delivered solid growth, with margins expanding and key growth drivers including Cosentyx delivering strong performance."

The Swiss group's net income jumped to $7.8 billion, including a $5.7 billion net gain from the sale of Novartis's stake in a consumer healthcare joint venture to GlaxoSmithKline.

Net sales for the full year are expected to grow in the low to mid-single digit percentage range, with core operating income to grow by a mid- to high-single digit percentage.