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Novartis (NVS - Analyst Report) reported first quarter 2013 earnings per share of 98 cents, up 5% from the year-ago period. First quarter 2013 core earnings per share came in at $1.32, up 6% from the year-ago period, and beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.25.

First quarter revenues of $14.1 billion were up 2% year over year. Revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $13.6 billion. Foreign exchange negatively impacted first quarter 2013 revenues by 2%. 

All growth rates mentioned below are on a year-on-year basis and at constant exchange rates (CER). 

Quarter in Detail

Novartis operates in five divisions: Pharmaceuticals, Alcon, Generics (Sandoz), Vaccines & Diagnostics and Consumer Health.

The Pharmaceuticals division recorded sales of $7.9 billion in the reported quarter, up 3% driven by strong volume growth.

Key drugs at Novartis such as Gilenya, Afinitor, Tasigna, Galvus, Lucentis, Xolair, Arcapta Neohaler/Onbrez Breezhaler and Jakavi performed very well during the first quarter of 2013.

In the first quarter, Novartis received EU approval for Jetrea for the treatment of vitreomacular traction and macular hole; Bexsero (MenB vaccine) for use in all age groups including infants, Ilaris for acute gout and Exelon Patch line extension for mild-to-moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease dementia.

In addition, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Exjade (for iron overload in non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia), Zortess (for the prevention of organ rejection in adult liver transplant patients) and Glivec for pediatric patients with newly-diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia in combination with chemotherapy. Moreover, the FDA also approved TOBI Podhaler for cystic fibrosis patients with P. aeruginosa. 

The Alcon Division recorded revenues of $2.6 billion in the first quarter, up 3%, year over year driven by growth in the Ophthalmic Pharmaceuticals and Vision Care sub-groups. Alcon expects to launch Jetrea in key European markets in the second quarter of 2013. In addition, the FDA approved Simbrinza (glaucoma or ocular hypertension) earlier in the month.

Sales from the Sandoz division increased 7% to $2.2 billion primarily driven by strong sales growth in many European and Asian markets.

Sales at the Vaccines and Diagnostics division increased 10% from the year-ago quarter to $327 million. The growth in this division was driven by bulk pediatric shipments, a strong influenza season in the US and pre-pandemic sales.

Consumer Health sales at Novartis were up 7% from the prior-year quarter to $987 million driven by growth in over-the-counter brands like Voltaren and Otrivin on a global basis.

Sales in emerging markets were strong led by China and Russia, which increased 21% and 33% respectively.

2013 Outlook Backed

Novartis reaffirmed its 2013 guidance provided along with fourth quarter 2012 results. Novartis still expects 2013 sales to be in line with 2012 at constant currency. Excluding the impact of generic competition, sales are expected to increase at least in the mid-single digits in 2013.

Novartis stated that generic competition could impact sales by $3.5 billion in 2013, out of which $500 million was accounted for in the first quarter of 2013.

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Right now, Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX), UCB SA (UCBJF) and WuXi PharmaTech (Cayman) Inc (WX) look attractive. All three are Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks.
 

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