Novartis first-quarter sales, profit miss analyst expectations amid Covid impact

  • Novartis confirmed its 2021 outlook, which foresees net sales growing at a low- to mid-single-digit percentage rate, with core operating income expected to grow at a mid-single-digit percentage rate, ahead of sales.
  • Novartis, like many other drugmakers including cross-town rival Roche, has taken a sales hit for drugs in dermatology, eye diseases and breast cancer treatment areas as people shy away from doctor visits during the prolonged pandemic.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis on Tuesday said first-quarter core net income fell 4%, missing analyst expectations, as Covid-19 related lockdowns and disruptions around the globe hit demand.

Core net income slipped to $3.4 billion, compared to the $3.5 billion average estimates of nine analysts in a poll by Refinitiv. Sales were 1% higher at $12.4 billion, compared to $12.5 billion forecast in the poll. Net income fell 5% to $2.06 billion.

Novartis confirmed its 2021 outlook, which foresees net sales growing at a low- to mid-single-digit percentage rate, with core operating income expected to grow at a mid-single-digit percentage rate, ahead of sales.

Novartis, like many other drugmakers including cross-town rival Roche, has taken a sales hit for drugs in dermatology, eye diseases and breast cancer treatment areas as people shy away from doctor visits during the prolonged pandemic. That is impacting key Novartis medicines including Cosentyx for psoriasis, Lucentis for macular degeneration, and Kisqali for breast cancer.

"There continues to be COVID-19 related lockdowns and disruptions in several geographies," Novartis said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a historically weak cough and cold season for drugs made by its Sandoz generics unit.

The Sandoz unit, where sales fell 9% to $2.3 billion in the period, now expects revenue for the full year to decline in the low- to mid-single-digit percentages.

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