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July 18, 2019, 4:05 a.m. EDT

Novartis hikes sales, operating income forecast

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By Kim Richters

Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis AG (NOVN.EB) on Thursday raised its full-year sales and core operating income guidance, saying it saw strong sales in the second quarter.

Novartis now expects its 2019 core operating income to grow low double-digit to mid-teens and net sales to grow mid to high-single digits. The revised guidance assumes that no Gilenya generics will enter the U.S. in 2019.

Net profit attributable to shareholders fell to $6.8 billion from $7.77 billion the same period last year and net income from continuing operations excluding Alcon, which went public in April, declined to $2.11 billion from $7.73 billion after a nearly $6 billion one-off gain from the sale of Novartis's stake in its joint consumer health-care venture with GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK.LN).

Core operating profit, a figure watched by analysts that strips out extraordinary items, grew to $3.65 billion from $3.21 billion. Net sales grew to $11.76 billion from $11.34 billion, mainly due to strong sales of the company's Cosentyx and Entresto drugs, according to Novartis.

"Novartis delivered an exceptional first-half performance in 2019 as a focused medicines company with strong sales and productivity driving double-digit core operating income growth with margin expansion," Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan said.

Write to Kim Richters at kim.richters@wsj.com

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