Pharmaceuticals delivers strong underlying growth in first quarter of 2009 as Novartis continues to rejuvenate product portfolio. Group's strong operational performance led by Pharmaceuticals net sales growth of 12% in local currencies on rapid expansion of recently launched products.
Commenting on the results, Dr. Daniel Vasella, Chairman and CEO of Novartis, said: "New products fueled ongoing momentum in Pharmaceuticals in the first quarter of 2009, and the fundamentals of the business remain positive. R&D projects are progressing well, and I am pleased with the first approvals of Afinitor, offering hope to advanced kidney cancer patients, and the Ixiaro vaccine against Japanese encephalitis. The uncertain economy and currency market volatility create an opportunity to continue to enhance productivity and manage costs. Our aim in 2009 remains to again deliver record underlying net sales and earnings excluding currency effects."
Pharmaceuticals led the Group's healthcare portfolio in the first quarter of 2009, with the division's net sales up 12% in local currencies. Sustained expansion of recently launched products rejuvenated the Pharmaceuticals portfolio and led to market share gains in 11 of the top 15 countries. The benefits of R&D investments were reaffirmed with the first regulatory approval of the anti-cancer medicine Afinitor in the US as well as the US and European approvals of the new Ixiaro vaccine against Japanese encephalitis. Good progress was achieved in a number of the Group's development projects.
The solid underlying performance was offset in reported results by the effect of a stronger US dollar (the Group's reporting currency), with net sales reduced by 10 percentage points and operating income by 11 percentage points, and was also impacted by weaker performances in OTC and Animal Health, due to the global economic crisis.
As a result, net sales rose 8% in local currencies in the first quarter, but fell 2% in US dollars to USD 9.7 billion. Higher sales volumes provided eight percentage points of growth over the 2008 quarter, but this could not overcome the 10 percentage points lost to negative currency movements. Net price changes and acquisitions had no impact.
Operating income fell 6% to USD 2.3 billion, which included currency losses along with sustained Pharmaceuticals investments, reduced contributions from Sandoz and higher one-time gains in 2008. However, operating income rose 7% when adjusted for currencies, exceptional items and the amortization of intangible assets in both periods.
Net income declined 14% to USD 2.0 billion, also hurt by currencies. A drop in average net liquidity and financing costs for the 25% Alcon stake, which was acquired in 2008, further reduced non-operating income in the 2009 quarter. Basic earnings per share (EPS) were USD 0.87 in the 2009 first quarter compared to USD 1.02 in the 2008 period.
About Novartis Novartis AG provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in these areas. In 2008, the Group's continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 41.5 billion and net income of USD 8.2 billion. Approximately USD 7.2 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 98,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.