London: GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the world’s second largest drug maker by revenue, reported on Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit soared by 66%, boosted by strong sales of swine flu vaccine and flu medicine.
In the three months ending 31 December, Glaxo turned a net profit of £1.63 billion ($2.6 billion), compared to £982 million a year earlier.
The strong finish pushed full-year profits up 20% to £5.5 billion.
Sales of Relenza, the company’s drug for treating flu, totaled £720 million for the year, compared to just £57 million in 2008. In the fourth quarter, Relenza sales rose to £256 million from £13 million a year earlier.
Total vaccine sales were up 30% for the year to 3.7 billion, the company said. Glaxo did not break out sales figures for swine flu (H1H1) vaccine, but reported “substantial” sales in Europe in the fourth quarter.
“I believe that GSK is now moving to a position where we can deliver our goal of long-term sustainable financial performance,” said chief executive Andrew Witty. “2009 saw GSK return to sales growth and I am confident of our prospects in 2010.”
The company raised its full-year dividend by 7% to 61 pence.
Glaxo shares were up 1.6% at 1,237 pence on the London Stock Exchange.
The company said it aimed to cut expenditure by £500 million by 2012, but said it would not announce a target for job reductions. Published reports have said that about 4,000 of GlaxoSmithKline’s 99,000 employees worldwide might be affected.
GSK said sales for the year were up 16.5% to £28.4 billion.
Sales gains of 16% in Asia Pacific and 9% in Europe helped offset a 13% drop in the United States, where Glaxo said several products suffered from generic competition.