Swiss pharma giant Novartis AG ( NVS Quick Quote NVS - Free Report) reported mixed results for the second quarter as the business gradually recovers from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Second-quarter 2021 core earnings (excluding one-time charges) of $1.66 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.52 and increased from $1.36 reported in the year-ago quarter. Revenues of $12.96 billion missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $12.98 billion. Sales were up 14% from the year-ago quarter, driven by momentum in key brands including Cosentyx, Entresto, Zolgensma, the oncology portfolio and the launch of Kesimpta, which continues to accelerate. The stock has lost 4.5% in the year so far against the industry’s growth of 9%. All growth rates mentioned below are on a year-over-year basis and at constant exchange rates. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Quarter in Detail Novartis operates under two segments — Innovative Medicines and Sandoz (generics). The Innovative Medicines division recorded sales of $10.6 billion, up 10% year over year. Within this segment, the Pharmaceuticals business unit grew 12% year over year, driven by the strong performance of Entresto, Cosentyx and Zolgensma. Cosentyx sales increased 21% to $1.2 billion, driven by sustained underlying demand across indications in the United States and Europe, and strong volume growth in China. Entresto sales grew 46% to $886 million, owing to strong growth with increased patient share across markets. Increasing contribution from Zolgensma (gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy) also boosted this business unit, as sales jumped 48% to $315 million. Oncology business unit sales were up 7%, fueled by the strong performance of Promacta/Revolade (up 18% to $513 million), Jakavi (up 19% to $398 million), Kisqali (up 36% to $225 million) Tafinlar + Mekinist (up 10% to $425 million), Tasigna (up 6% to $523 million) and Kymriah (up 19% to $147 million). Sales in the Sandoz division were $2.4 billion, up 5% year over year as the business has started to stabilize. Sales in Europe grew 6% while sales in the United States declined 10% due to the retail generics business, especially oral solids including partnership terminations. Global sales of Biopharmaceuticals grew 5%. Guidance for 2021 The company expects net sales in 2021 to grow in low- to mid-single digits. Innovative Medicines revenues are projected to grow in mid-single digits. Revenues from Sandoz are expected to decline in low to mid-single digit. Key Pipeline Updates The FDA approved Cosentyx for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in pediatric patients aged six years and older. Novartis resubmitted a New Drug Application (NDA) for inclisiran to the FDA to address the Complete Response Letter (CRL) issued by the agency. Another candidate, 177Lu-PSMA-617, was granted a Breakthrough Therapy designation (BTD) by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). The Ph2 study on iptacopan in patients with IgA nephropathy (IgAN) met the primary endpoint of reduction in proteinuria and also showed a trend toward stabilization of the kidney function. Earlier, Novartis successfully completed the in-licensing of tislelizumab from BeiGene ( BGNE Quick Quote BGNE - Free Report) for development and commercialization in North America, Europe and Japan. Our Take Novartis’ second-quarter results were encouraging after reporting weak results in the last couple of quarters. Most of the key brands continue to maintain momentum and the pipeline progress is also impressive. While the pandemic will continue to affect results in certain geographies, demand should pick up as the year progresses. Zacks Rank Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A couple of better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector include Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ( REGN Quick Quote REGN - Free Report) and BioMarin Pharmaceuticals ( BMRN Quick Quote BMRN - Free Report) , both carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see . the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here Regeneron’s earnings estimates are up 47 cents for 2021. The stock is up 19.4%. BioMarin’s earnings estimates are up 17 cents for 2021.