Operating income rose 15% (+17% cc) to USD 11.5 billion on the volume-driven sales expansion. Unfavorable currency movements negatively impacted operating income by two percentage points. Operating income margin improved 0.3 percentage points to 22.8% of net sales. One-off items arising in the year totaled a net USD 1.3 billion, comprising: impairments (USD 1.0 billion), legal settlements (USD 240 million), restructuring costs (USD 198 million), and Alcon-related costs (USD 596 million), partially offset by divestment and pension curtailment gains (USD 690 million).
Core operating income rose 22% (+24% cc) to USD 14 billion; the core operating income margin rose 1.9 percentage points to 27.7% of net sales. Included in the core operating margin improvement of 1.9 percentage points were a benefit from Alcon of 0.4 percentage points and higher A(H1N1) pandemic flu vaccine sales of 0.5 percentage points, resulting in the increase in the underlying margin of 1.0 percentage points.
Net income advanced 18% (+20% cc) to USD 10.0 billion ahead of operating income growth due to higher income from associated companies (+173% cc), offset by higher financial expenses from the Alcon financing. Earnings per share (EPS) rose 16% (+17% cc) to USD 4.28 from USD 3.70 in the 2009 period. Core net income grew 17% (+18% cc) to USD 12.0 billion, while core EPS was up 14% (+15% cc) to USD 5.15 from USD 4.50 in the year-ago period. The Board proposes a dividend payment of CHF 2.20 per share for 2010, up 5% from CHF 2.10 per share in 2009, representing the 14th consecutive dividend increase since the creation of Novartis in December 1996. Shareholders will vote on this and other proposals at the 2010 Annual General Meeting scheduled for February 22, 2011.
Net sales rose 10% (+11% cc) to USD 14.2 billion. Alcon sales were USD 1.8 billion for the quarter. Unfavorable currency movements depressed the result by 1 percentage point (excluding Alcon). Recently launched products provided USD 2.5 billion of net sales in the 2010 period, which represent 20% of total sales (excluding Alcon).
Pharmaceuticals sales grew 3% (+4% cc) to USD 8.0 billion driven by 7 percentage points of volume expansion, offset by 3 percentage points of price erosion. Recently launched products contributed 23% of Pharmaceuticals sales, up from 18% in 2009. Sandoz maintained its strong growth (USD 2.4 billion, +10%, +14% cc) versus prior year, with 21 percentage points of volume expansion from new product launches, including gemcitabine (generic Gemzar®) and enoxaparin (generic Lovenox®). Vaccines and Diagnostics declined 74% (-73% cc) versus previous year to USD 361 million as a result of USD 1.0 billion of A(H1N1) pandemic flu vaccine sales in the fourth quarter of 2009 that were not repeated in the 2010 quarter and shipment delays resulting from production issues at one of our vaccines plants. Consumer Health growth (USD 1.6 billion, 0%, +1% cc) was suppressed by a high year-ago base due to the Prevacid24HR launch and initial stocking in the OTC business unit. Excluding the launch impact of Prevacid24HR in 2009, Consumer Health growth in the fourth quarter of 2010 was 5% (+6% cc).
Operating income decreased 6% (-3% cc). Currency had a negative impact of 3 percentage points. Alcon contributed operating income of USD 222 million. One-off items in the quarter included charges totaling USD 789 million, partially offset by a gain of USD 392 million from the divestment of Enablex. These charges include Pharmaceuticals USD 253 million (mainly ASA404 impairment USD 120 million and US restructuring costs USD 85 million), Sandoz USD 49 million (German restructuring), Vaccines and Diagnostics USD 75 million (manufacturing restructuring USD 52 million and financial asset impairment USD 23 million), Alcon USD 383 million (fair value revaluation of inventory USD 372 million, costs resulting from the change in majority ownership USD 11 million) and Corporate charges of USD 24 million.
Excluding these one-time items and acquisition-related items, core operating income increased 2% in constant currencies to USD 3.2 billion. Core operating income margin decreased 2.5 percentage points to 22.3% of net sales. Included in the core operating margin decline of 2.5 percentage points was a benefit of 1.8 percentage points from Alcon while the absence of A(H1N1) pandemic flu vaccine sales in 2010 decreased the margin by 4.4 percentage points. Underlying margin excluding these two items was broadly flat.
Net income declined 2% to USD 2.3 billion. The decline was lower than operating income primarily as a result of a low tax charge stemming from the consolidation of Alcon and a true-up of the underlying Novartis tax rate to 16.3%, offset by higher Alcon-related financing costs and a decrease in income from associated companies (no Alcon equity accounting and inclusion of USD 89 million of Roche restructuring costs). Core net income was flat in constant currencies compared to 2009 at USD 2.8 billion.
Earnings per share (EPS) declined 6% (-2% cc) to USD 0.95 from USD 1.01 in the 2009 period, while core EPS was down 10% (-6% cc) in the fourth quarter to USD 1.14 from USD 1.26 in the year-ago period.
Commenting on the results, Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, said: "Novartis achieved excellent results in 2010 as all divisions contributed to above-market growth. I am proud that Novartis continues to lead the industry in innovation, with 13 key product approvals and 16 major filings in Pharmaceuticals in 2010, including our breakthrough multiple sclerosis therapy, Gilenya, which has been launched in the US. We also filed Bexsero, our meningococcal B vaccine, in the EU. In addition, our agreed 100% merger with Alcon, which should complete in the first half of 2011 following shareholder approval, will give us an important new growth pillar and the opportunity to meet some of the most urgent eye care needs of the global aging population."
Novartis 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 2010, the Group's continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 50.6 billion, while approximately USD 9.1 billion (USD 8.1 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges) was invested in R&D throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 119,000 full-time-equivalent associates (including 16,700 Alcon associates) and operate in more than 140 countries around the world.