By Cecilia Butini
Novartis AG said Tuesday that net profit for the fourth quarter grew on higher operating income and higher sales.
The Swiss pharmaceutical major posted net profit of $2.1 billion, up from $1.13 billion the previous year, while sales increased to $12.77 billion in the quarter, from $12.40 billion for the same period a year earlier.
A consensus forecast provided by FactSet had net profit at $2.77 billion and sales at $11.42 billion.
Core operating income, or income excluding extraordinary items, came in at $3.50 billion, up from $3.46 billion the year prior, Novartis said.
The company said coronavirus-related lockdowns throughout the year hurt some of its therapeutic areas such as ophthalmology, dermatology and the Sandoz retail business. However, it said its operations remain stable with cash collection continuing to be according to normal trade terms.
Key growth drivers in the quarter were, among other things, heart-failure drug Entresto and psoriasis treatment Cosentyx, Novartis said.
For 2021, the company guided for net sales growth in the low-to-mid singe digit and for core operating income growth in the mid-single digits.
The company proposed an increased dividend of 3 Swiss francs ($3.38) a share for 2020, it said.
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