Novartis Reports $2.3B 3Q Profit

GENEVA (AP) -- Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG posted a 10 percent rise in third-quarter net profit Thursday thanks to strong sales of new products and added revenue from recently acquired eye care company Alcon.

The maker of hypertension drug Diovan and anticancer treatment Glivec -- known as Gleevec in the United States -- said net profits reached $2.32 billion compared with $2.11 billion in the same period of 2009.

Sales rose 13 percent to $12.6 billion from $11.1 billion a year earlier. New products contributed 20 percent -- or $2.3 billion -- in revenue.

The Basel-based company is rushing to establish new best-sellers as its patent protection on Diovan gradually expires around the world. It recently gained U.S. approval for Gilenya, the first pill to treat the underlying causes of multiple sclerosis.

Novartis is also touting Tasigna, a drug for chronic myeloid leukemia, as a potential pharmaceutical blockbuster.

Chief Executive Joseph Jimenez said he was confident that the company's research and development pipeline "will continue to deliver."

Analysts welcomed the results, though Zuercher Kantonalbank noted that the pharmaceutical division didn't quite meet expectations. Shares in Novartis rose 0.4 percent to 57.50 Swiss francs ($59.66) on the Zurich exchange.

Net pharmaceuticals sales rose 5 percent to $7.57 billion, while diagnostics and vaccines sales increased 16 percent to $632 million.

Generics division Sandoz saw sales rise almost 18 percent to $2.18 billion. It launched enoxaparin, a generic version of rival Sanofi-Aventis SA's anticlotting medicine Lovenox, to sales of $292 million during the quarter.

The consumer health division posted a 7.5 percent increase in sales to $1.59 billion.

For the first time Novartis also included $617 million in revenue from Alcon in its result, having acquired the last remaining stake held by Nestle during the third quarter. The Swiss now own 77 percent of Alcon, which has its U.S. headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, and are aiming for a full takeover.

Novartis said overall quarterly sales and earnings would have been higher if not for the weak U.S. dollar.

The company said full-year sales excluding Alcon are expected to grow in the mid- to high-single digit range in constant currencies but noted that the $1 billion boost it received from swine flu vaccines last year wouldn't occur in the fourth quarter.

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