Shares in Novartis (NYSE:NVS) rose today after the pharmaceutical company met expectations on Wall Street with its 1st quarter earnings, but missed on sales largely thanks to growing pressure from generics to the company’s top-selling chemotherapy, Gleevec.
The company posted profits of $1.92 billion, or 22¢ per share, on sales of $11.53 billion for the 3 months ended March 31, for bottom-line loss of -22% on sales loss of -1% compared with the same period last year.
Adjusted to exclude 1-time items, earnings per share were $1.13, a penny ahead of consensus on The Street, where analysts were looking for sales of $11.65 billion.
“Novartis delivered another solid performance in the 1st quarter. Growth drivers, including Cosentyx and Entresto, more than offset generic erosion, mainly due to Gleevec,” CEO Joseph Jimenez said in prepared remarks. “The innovation momentum continued in the quarter, led by the launch of Kisqali, and the FDA Priority Review for CTL019 in the US. This reinforces our confidence in our next growth phase, which we expect to start in 2018.”
NVS shares were trading at $76.19 apiece today in afternoon activity, up 2.1%.
In January, Novartis said it was reviewing Alcon and considering a possible sale of the company’s eye care business.
Novartis bought Alcon from Nestle for $52 billion in 2010 under the leadership of former CEO & chairman Daniel Vasella. Alcon’s sales have struggled in recent years and the company has undergone changes to its leadership team. New division head Mike Ball has been charged with halting the company’s revenue slide in case the unit is sold.
Novartis reportedly said it could sell Alcon, spin it off in an IPO or keep it. “We’ve not ruled anything out, all options are on the table,” Jimenez said to Reuters in January. Jimenez told investors to keep an eye out for an update by the end of 2017.