Basel: Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has posted a forecast-beating net profit of $2.3 billion for the first quarter, up 10% from the same period last year.
Operating income rose seven percent to $2.49 billion, comfortably beating market expectations, as currency movements provided a net positive impact on the result.
Analysts had expected operating income to reach an average of $2 billion, down from $2.335 in the same period last year. Net sales from continuing operations reached $9.91 billion, up 9%.
While sales of the pharmaceuticals division fell around 19% in the United States due to generic competition and the loss of a irritable bowel syndrome drug Zelnorm, the sharp decline was offset by growth in other regions, said the group.
As a result, the overall sales for the pharmaceuticals division - also the group’s largest division - saw only a decline of 3% in local currencies to $6.3 billion.
Daniel Vasella, chairman and chief executive officer of Novartis said: “I am confident Novartis will once again achieve record sales and earnings in 2008 from continuing operations now fully focused on healthcare.”