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Novartis sees 2019 growth as it sheds eyecare unit, narrows focus

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Reuters ZURICH
ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis sees mid-single-digit sales growth from its core businesses in 2019 as it sheds its Alcon eyecare unit and a U.S. generics pills business to focus on newer high-tech drugs.
Fourth-quarter core operating profit rose to $3.39 billion, the company said on Wednesday, compared to the average $3.44 billion in a poll of analysts by Reuters. Sales rose to $13.3 billion, matching the average forecast in the poll.
Novartis said sales of its Entresto heart failure medicine accelerated along with revenue from its psoriasis-and-arthritis blockbuster Cosentyx.
For all of 2018, Novartis booked net profit of $12.6 billion, up 64 percent as it made gains on the sale of an over-the-counter medicines joint venture to GlaxoSmithKline to focus on newer, costly drugs including gene therapy and nuclear medicine targeting cancer. Full-year sales rose 5 percent to $51.9 billion.
"Looking ahead, we expect to sustain top and bottom line growth," Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan said in a statement. The Alcon spinoff remained on track for the first half of this year.
(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields)

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First Published: Jan 30 2019 | 12:09 PM IST

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