Fourth-quarter core operating profit rose to $3.39 billion, the company said on Wednesday, compared to the average $3.44 billion in a poll of analysts by Reuters. Sales rose to $13.3 billion, matching the average forecast in the poll.
Novartis said sales of its Entresto heart failure medicine accelerated along with revenue from its psoriasis-and-arthritis blockbuster Cosentyx.
The company also said it expects to see mid-single-digit sales growth from its core businesses in 2019. It comes as the firm sheds its Alcon eye-care unit and U.S. generics pills business to focus on newer high-tech drugs.
"Really where I want the markets to focus is our new focused medicines company. That's why we did almost $50 billion in transactions last year, and our planned transactions over the course of this year, to transform the company," Vas Narasimhan, chief executive of Novartis, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Wednesday.
"When you look at that guidance we are really expecting mid-single-digits sales growth and mid-to-high-single-digit core operating income growth," he added.