Switzerland's Novartis beats expectations for first quarter 2009

Novartis ties up with USV to market Galvus in IndiaGeneva - The Swiss drug maker Novartis said Thursday its first quarter profits were down 14 percent, to 2 billion dollars, but still better than expectations that the fall would be worse.

The Basel-based company said its net sales stood at 9.7 billion dollars, down 2 per cent, but if valued in local currencies, this was an 8 per cent increase.

Basic earnings per share were at 87 cents in the first quarter compared to 1.02 dollars in the same period in 2008.

The pharmaceuticals division's sales were up 12 per cent in local currencies, based on newly launched products, representing 14 per cent of net sales, up from 8 per cent in the 2008 first quarter.

Novartis said it expected "strong operational performance" this year, but that currency rates, particularly a strong dollar, could hurt its profitability, since it used the US bill as its reporting currency. (dpa)

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