Novartis achieves record results in 2009 as momentum from recently launched products drives growth across healthcare portfolio

Novartis achieves record results in 2009 as momentum from recently launched products drives growth across its entire healthcare portfolio
Novartis completes CEO succession process with appointment of Joe Jimenez as new CEO and simplified leadership organization

  • Group delivers sustained business expansion and profit improvement with all divisions contributing to strong performance in 2009

 

o    Net sales rise 11% in local currencies (lc) to USD 44.3 billion (+7% in USD), as innovative  products drive Pharmaceuticals to industry-leading growth and Vaccines and Diagnostics sells over 100 million influenza A (H1N1) pandemic vaccine doses

 

o    Core operating income grows 11% to USD 11.4 billion, as margin improves to 25.8% of net sales on business expansion and productivity gains

 

o    Core net income rises 8% to USD 10.3 billion, at a lower pace than core operating income mainly due to Alcon-related financing costs

 

o     Core EPS up 8% to USD 4.50

 

o    Free cash flow before dividends advances 24% to USD 9.4 billion

 

  • More than 30 drug approvals and full pipeline with 145 projects in pharmaceutical clinical development, of which 60 involve new molecular entities

 

  • Forward productivity program exceeds savings goal by nearly 50% and a year ahead of schedule

 

  • Access-to-medicine programs including medication for malaria and leprosy reach 80 million patients in 2009 with contributions valued at USD 1.5 billion, or 3% of sales

 

  • New management in place for the next phase of growth

 

o    Dr. Vasella to focus on strategic priorities as Chairman, Board names Joe Jimenez CEO and simplifies organizational structure completing the CEO succession process begun in 2008

 

o    Novartis to become the first large, listed Swiss company to include a consultative vote on Compensation System in its Articles of Incorporation, further strengthening governance in wake of global financial crisis

 

  • 13th consecutive dividend increase: CHF 2.10 per share proposed for 2009

 

  • 2010 to be a year of significant progress in implementing strategic priorities with continued focus on innovation, growth and productivity

Basel, January 26, 2010 - Commenting on the results, Dr. Daniel Vasella, Chairman and CEO of Novartis, said: "Novartis delivered an excellent performance in 2009 driven by strong underlying growth across our entire healthcare portfolio. Over the past 12 months, we sustained our lead in approvals for new products, achieving more than 30 major new product approvals in the US, Europe and Japan. Our productivity efforts improved profitability and allowed for continued investments in drug discovery. The planned acquisition of Alcon will propel Novartis to the global leadership position in eye-care and create a new growth platform. After 14 years as CEO it is the right time to complete the carefully planned CEO succession process, which started over a year ago. The Board appointed Joe Jimenez, currently division head of our pharmaceutical business as new CEO and also agreed to delayer and simplify the top leadership structure. The international experience in pharmaceuticals and consumer businesses together with an excellent track record destine Joe Jimenez to lead Novartis into a next phase of expansion and growth. I am convinced 2010 will be a year of significant progress."

 

 

OVERVIEW

Full year

The underlying double-digit expansion in Pharmaceuticals, ranked as one of the industry's fastest-growing businesses based on market share, led the Group's healthcare portfolio in 2009 to another year of record results. Vaccines and Diagnostics achieved exceptionally high sales by rapidly developing and delivering influenza A (H1N1) pandemic vaccines to address the public health threat.

Net sales rose 7% (+11% in local currencies, lc) to USD 44.3 billion on the underlying expansion in all divisions: Pharmaceuticals (+12% lc), Vaccines and Diagnostics (+39% lc), Sandoz (+5% lc) and Consumer Health (+5% lc). Top-performing regions included Europe (USD 18.4 billion, +10% lc) and the United States (USD 14.3 billion, +11% lc) as well as the top six emerging markets (USD 4.0 billion, +17% lc) of Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Korea and Turkey. Higher volumes contributed 10 percentage points of growth, while acquisitions and price changes together added one percentage point of sales growth. The stronger US dollar compared to 2008 reduced full-year growth by four percentage points.

Operating income grew 11% to USD 10.0 billion in 2009, which resulted in the operating income margin rising to 22.5% of net sales from 21.6% in 2008. The stronger US dollar compared to 2008 reduced operating income growth by nine percentage points. Core operating income, which excludes exceptional items and amortization of intangible assets in both periods, grew 11% to USD 11.4 billion on improvements in Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines and Diagnostics as well as productivity gains in all divisions. The core operating income margin rose to 25.8% of net sales from 25.0% in 2008.

Net income rose 4% to USD 8.5 billion, while basic EPS was up 3% to USD 3.70. Core net income of USD 10.3 billion (+8%) rose at a slower pace than operating income as increased contributions from associated companies were partially reduced by Alcon-related financing costs. Core earnings per share were USD 4.50 in 2009, up from USD 4.18 in 2008. 

 

 

Fourth quarter

Novartis ended 2009 strongly, delivering double-digit net sales and earnings growth that reflected operational progress in all divisions and more favorable currency conditions over the 2008 period.

Net sales grew 28% (+20% lc) to USD 12.9 billion. Pharmaceuticals (+13% lc) maintained its industry-leading performance based on growth of recently launched products. Results in Vaccines and Diagnostics (+166% lc) included USD 1.0 billion of A (H1N1) pandemic vaccine and adjuvant sales. Sandoz (+10% lc) benefited from the EBEWE Pharma specialty generics business acquisition in September, which added five percentage points to sales growth. Consumer Health (+13% lc) had better results in all businesses, particularly in OTC on the first-to-market OTC launch of Prevacid24HR in the US.

Operating income rose 57% to USD 2.6 billion, with favorable currency movements having a positive impact of five percentage points. The operating income margin improved to 20.4% in the 2009 quarter from 16.7% in 2008. Core operating income rose 53% to USD 3.2 billion in the 2009 quarter on double-digit contributions from all businesses, with the core operating income margin expanding to 24.8% of net sales in the 2009 period from 20.8% in the year-ago quarter.
Net income rose 54% to USD 2.3 billion, while basic EPS rose at the same pace to USD 1.01 in the 2009 period from USD 0.66 in 2008. Core net income was up 47% to USD 2.9 billion, which reflected higher financing charges and reduced income from associated companies. Core basic earnings per share (EPS) rose 47% to USD 1.26 in the 2009 quarter from USD 0.86 in the 2008.

 

 

More than 30 major approvals in 2009

Novartis is transforming its portfolio through long-term investments in innovation. More than 30 major regulatory approvals in 2009 included the new medicines Afinitor (cancer), Onbrez Breezhaler (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and Ilaris (CAPS); A (H1N1) pandemic flu vaccines; the first-ever biosimilars in Japan and Canada; and the Prevacid24HR OTC brand in the US. Among regulatory submissions completed in 2009 included Gilenia (FTY720, multiple sclerosis) in the US and Europe. Other key submissions involved new indications for Tasigna (first-line CML), Zometa (adjuvant breast cancer) and Lucentis (diabetic macular edema). Novartis gained approvals in Japan for six new medicines, while three more approvals were received in January 2010 for Equa (Galvus), Exforge (hypertension) and Afinitor. Many submissions are planned for 2010, with up to five in oncology: Afinitor (neuroendocrine tumors) and the development projects SOM230 (Cushing's disease), LBH589 (Hodgkin's lymphoma) and EPO906 (ovarian cancer).

 

Improving organizational productivity
Novartis is integrating the drive for greater productivity and increased efficiency into its operations, improving speed while freeing up resources to focus on customers and growth initiatives. This is expected to lead to further improvement in the Group's operating income margin in 2010. Forward, the Group-wide initiative launched in late 2007 to simplify structures and redesign the way Novartis operates, has been completed a year ahead of schedule after progressing rapidly and achieving more than USD 2.3 billion of cumulative cost savings since 2007 and exceeding its 2010 goal of USD 1.6 billion. 

 

Commitment to patients

Business success enables Novartis to continue its commitment to patients around the world, an integral part of the Group's strategy. Medicines and vaccines from Novartis were used in 2009 to treat and protect more than 930 million people around the world, according to internal estimates. Novartis is helping patients in the developing world through key initiatives focused on neglected diseases, especially malaria, leprosy, dengue fever and treatment-resistant tuberculosis. Treatments worth USD 1.5 billion were contributed through Novartis access-to-medicine programs in 2009, reaching 79.5 million patients in need.


 

 

2010: Delivering on strategic priorities 

Novartis expects 2010 to be a year of significant progress in implementing its strategy to meet the growing needs of patients and aging societies worldwide through its healthcare portfolio.

Industry-leading growth

Novartis expects to maintain momentum in 2010 and increase Group net sales at a mid-single-digit percentage rate in local currencies[1] based on the rapidly growing contributions of recently launched products and targeted investments in emerging growth markets. 

Pharmaceuticals expects to continue the strong volume growth achieved in 2009 on the rapid expansion of recently launched products, implementing new commercial models to adapt to local market needs while expanding in high-growth markets. However, pricing conditions are uncertain given industry challenges that include healthcare reforms (particularly in the US and Turkey) and biennial price cuts in Japan, while therapeutic-class generic competition is also set to start for Diovan in 2010 ahead of the end of exclusivity in Europe (2011) and the US (September 2012). Reflecting these factors, Pharmaceuticals net sales in 2010 are expected to grow at a mid- to high-single digit rate in local currencies.

 

Vaccines and Diagnostics is preparing the launch of Menveo, a developmental vaccine against four serogroups of meningococcal meningitis. European approval is expected in early 2010 after a positive opinion in December 2009, while a US regulatory decision is also expected in the first half of the year. Novartis plans to continue delivering A (H1N1) pandemic influenza vaccines and adjuvants in 2010; however, sales estimates for the year are well below 2009 levels.

 

Sandoz expects to increase its pace of growth in 2010. The addition of EBEWE Pharma's specialty injectables business in September 2009 has created a new global growth platform by improving access to price competitive quality oncology medicines.

Consumer Health aims to keep growing ahead of its markets in 2010. The late 2009 US launch of Prevacid24HR, the first OTC version of this drug for frequent heartburn pain, has created an important new brand. Novartis will launch an OTC version of pantoprazole, another proton pump inhibitor, in 14 European countries in the second quarter of 2010 after gaining rights from Nycomed.

 

The addition of Alcon, the global leader in eye care, will strengthen the Novartis healthcare portfolio and provide a greater presence in the fast-growing global eye care sector. Novartis announced on January 4 its intention to gain full ownership of Alcon by first completing the April 2008 agreement with Nestlé S.A. to acquire a 77% majority stake and subsequently entering into an all-share direct merger with Alcon for the remaining 23% minority stake. This merger, which will be implemented under the Swiss Merger Act, is in the interest of all stakeholders and will provide the needed clarity on Alcon's future. Following the merger, Alcon will become a new Novartis division that incorporates CIBA Vision and certain Novartis ophthalmic medicines.

 

Board selects new CEO and simplifies the top leadership organization

 

The Board has accepted Dr. Daniel Vasella's proposal to complete the CEO succession process after serving 14 years as CEO and 11 years as Chairman and CEO, by appointing Joe Jimenez, currently Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division as Novartis' new CEO. Dr. Vasella will continue in his role as Chairman of the Board concentrating on strategic priorities. This completes the succession plan which began in 2008 with the creation of a transitional COO position and the appointment of new divisional management. The business portfolio has been successfully transformed to focus on healthcare, the research organization is highly respected and the pipeline is full and highly valued. Novartis' reputation is among the best in its industry and beyond, led by a world-class leadership team. So, it is timely to transition to a new CEO.

The Board has selected Joe Jimenez with complete trust in his global leadership capabilities, based on his outstanding performance track record, broad international business experience and his ability to provide direction, align and engage people. These skills will be crucial for implementing Novartis' strategy. Jimenez will take over the CEO responsibilities as of February 1, 2010.

David Epstein, currently Head of the Novartis Oncology business, the fastest growing unit in Pharmaceuticals, will become Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division. Jon Symonds will take over as CFO on February 1, 2010, from Raymund Breu, who will retire on March 31, having reached the mandatory retirement age.

Simplifying its leadership structure Novartis reduces the size of the Executive Committee from 12 to 9. They will be Joe Jimenez, CEO; Mark Fishman, M.D., Global Head of NIBR (The Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research); David Epstein, Division Head Pharmaceuticals; Jeff George, Division Head Generics; George Gunn, Division Head Consumer Health: Andrin Oswald, M.D., Division Head Vaccines and Diagnostics; Jon Symonds, CFO; Thomas Werlen, General Counsel; and Jürgen Brokatzky-Geiger, Global Head Human Resources.

Furthering the delayering efforts, three executive positions have been eliminated: COO, Head Corporate Affairs, and Head Group Quality/Technical Operations.

Two smaller units, Group Quality Assurance, headed by Juan Andres and Group Country Management/External Affairs, led by Joe Jimenez ad interim, report to the CEO. Corporate Audit and Compliance reports to the Chairman. 

In the context of this new organizational structure Joerg Reinhardt, Andreas Rummelt and Thomas Wellauer have decided to pursue their careers outside of Novartis. We are thankful to each of them for their many contributions over the many years to the success of Novartis. All changes will be effective February 1, 2010.

 

 

AGM proposals for dividend rise and consultative vote on Compensation System to further strengthen governance in the wake of the global financial crisis, and against the mandatory separation of the responsibilities of Chairman and CEO

The Board proposes a dividend payment of CHF 2.10 per share for 2009, up 5% from CHF 2.00 per share for 2008 and representing the 13th consecutive dividend increase since the creation of Novartis in December 1996. The average annual dividend increased by 11.7% in CHF, while the annual total shareholder return since 1996 increased by 9%. Dividends paid for 2009 on outstanding shares will amount to USD 4.6 billion and the payout ratio is estimated at 55% of net income. Based on the year-end 2009 share price of CHF 56.50, the dividend yield is 3.7%. The payment date is March 5, 2010. All issued shares are dividend bearing, except 167.7 million treasury shares.

The Board further proposes that Novartis become the first large, listed Swiss company to include a consultative vote on its Compensation System in its Articles of Incorporation. Such a vote is to be held before every significant change in the Compensation System, but at least at every third Annual General Meeting (AGM). The three-year cycle for votes also allows shareholders to take a longer-term view when examining the sustainability of the Compensation System. Sustainable compensation systems are harmonized with multi-year business plans, and only attain their full effect when used unchanged for several years, in part since it takes time for them to be understood by employees. This proposal, if approved by shareholders, would be implemented following the upcoming AGM. The proposal complements the corporate governance initiatives that Novartis has instituted over the past year. In 2009 a new Risk Committee of the Board was established that oversees enterprise risk management processes for the Group while monitoring risk-adjusted decision-making. In addition, a "clawback provision" for incentive payments will be progressively included in employee contracts. This will allow Novartis to retract any unjustified payment to an employee if later it is found to be based on financial misstatements or unethical business behavior. This will further enhance Novartis' governance in the wake of the global financial crisis, which revealed among some companies a lack of standards and oversight which eventually contributed to the worldwide recession.

The Board recommends to shareholders to vote against the proposal by a shareholder group to introduce a yearly separate consultative vote on the Compensation Report, stating that such a vote is retrospective as it relates only to the previous business year. This vote would not allow a true consultation since shareholders would only express their views on matters that had already occurred. Shareholders also do not have the essential basis for an informed opinion on compensation awarded, as this implies knowledge of the pre-agreed objectives and the degree to which these objectives have been met. For competitive reasons it would be against the interest of the corporation to disclose yearly and long-term objectives and individual performance assessments. Setting the compensation of executives is an essential management instrument of the Board that may not be rescinded. Swiss company law mandates that this duty must be allocated to the Board.

The Board also recommends to shareholders to vote against a mandatory separation of the Chairman of the Board and CEO functions, regarding such a rule as too rigid and not in the best interests of shareholders, as it would restrict freedom and prevent the flexible adaptation of the Group's leadership structure to circumstances and strategic requirements. Novartis has long complied with international best practice based on the Board's decision to combine the roles of Chairman and CEO with the appointments of a Lead Director and only Independent Directors for the most important Board Committees. 

Finally, the Board proposes the re-election of Dr. Daniel Vasella and Marjorie M.T. Yang, each for a three-year term, and Hans-Joerg Rudloff for a one-year term (as he will reach the age limit).

Shareholders will vote on these and other proposals at the next Annual General Meeting scheduled for February 26, 2010.

BUSINESS REVIEW

 

Full year

 

Net sales

 
 2009
 2008
 % change
 
 
 USD m
 USD m
 USD
 lc
 
Pharmaceuticals
 28 538
 26 331
 8
 12
 
Vaccines and Diagnostics
 2 424
 1 759
 38
 39
 
Sandoz
 7 493
 7 557
 -1
 5
 
Consumer Health
 5 812
 5 812
 0
 5
 
Net sales
 44 267
 41 459
 7
 11
 

Pharmaceuticals: USD 28.5 billion (+8%, +12% lc)

All geographic regions and therapeutic areas contributed to the double-digit expansion in local currencies, driven by recently launched products (USD 4.7 billion, +81% lc) that increased their share of net sales to 16% in 2009 from 10% in 2008. This group of rapidly growing products - including Lucentis, Exforge, Exjade, Exelon Patch, Reclast/Aclasta, Tekturna/Rasilez, Afinitor and Ilaris - provided eight percentage points of the division's 12% lc net sales growth in 2009.

Oncology (USD 9.0 billion, +14% lc) remained the largest franchise and ranks No. 2 in the global oncology segment, led by sustained growth of Gleevec/Glivec (USD 3.9 billion, +12% lc) and three additional products - Zometa, Femara and Sandostatin - that each achieved more than USD 1 billion of sales. Exforge and Tekturna/Rasilez (high blood pressure) and Galvus (type 2 diabetes) drove expansion of Cardiovascular and Metabolism (USD 8.8 billion, +9% lc), complementing Diovan (USD 6.0 billion, +6% lc) as Novartis expanded its position as the global leader in hypertension. Lucentis (USD 1.2 billion, +47% lc) and Exelon (USD 954 million, +22% lc) fueled growth in Neuroscience and Ophthalmics (USD 4.9 billion, +12% lc).

All regions benefited from the product portfolio transformation, particularly Europe (USD 10.5 billion, +12% lc) as the largest region and generating more than 20% of sales from recently launched products. Also delivering top performances were Latin America and Canada (USD 2.5 billion, +13% lc), while the US (USD 9.5 billion, +11% lc) and Japan (USD 3.1 billion, +9% lc) both showed renewed growth. All six top emerging markets (USD 2.6 billion, +19% lc) - Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Korea and Turkey - advanced at robust double-digit rates.
Vaccines and Diagnostics: USD 2.4 billion (+38%, +39% lc)

A rapid response after the outbreak of the A (H1N1) pandemic in April 2009 enabled Vaccines and Diagnostics to deliver more than 100 million vaccine doses to governments around the world in only a few months, providing USD 1.0 billion of net sales from pandemic vaccines and adjuvants in 2009. Pediatric vaccines and strong growth in emerging markets helped offset price pressure on seasonal influenza vaccines and a decline in tick-borne encephalitis vaccines in Europe. Diagnostics sales were slightly lower.

Sandoz: USD 7.5 billion (-1%, +5% lc)

Consistent growth in 2009 at a stronger pace than in 2008 reflected the impact of new product launches, a sharper commercial focus in both mature and emerging markets, and the US returning to growth. To the benefit of customers, a price decline of seven percentage points from price erosion was more than offset by volume growth of 11 percentage points from new product launches. Retail generics and biosimilars in Germany (+4% lc) reached a leading 29% share from new product launches and volume growth in a challenging market. A total of 25 new product launches, eight more than 2008, underpinned US retail generics and biosimilars (+5%). Asia-Pacific (+17% lc) and Russia (+19% lc) were also among top performers. The EBEWE acquisition in September, which added one percentage point to sales growth in 2009, provided a strong platform for growth in injectable oncology medicines.

 

Consumer Health: USD 5.8 billion (+0%, +5% lc)

All businesses achieved faster underlying growth than their respective markets despite the difficult economic conditions. CIBA Vision was the industry's fastest-growing contact lens and lens care company on the strength of new product introductions. OTC delivered an increasingly positive performance, driven by portfolio innovation and the successful US launch of Prevacid24HR in November 2009. Animal Health grew ahead of the competition in the US.

Core operating income

 
 2009
 2008
 Change
 
 
 USD m
 % of

net

sales
 USD m
 % of

net

sales
 %
 
Pharmaceuticals
 9 068
 31.8
 8 249
 31.5
 10
 
Vaccines and Diagnostics
 719
 29.7
 309
 18.1
 133
 
Sandoz
 1 395
 18.6
 1 421
 18.8
 -2
 
Consumer Health
 1 118
 19.2
 1 125
 19.4
 -1
 
Corporate income and expenses, net
 -863
  -785
  
Core operating income
 11 437
 25.8
 10 319
 25.0
 11
 

 

Pharmaceuticals

Operating income rose 11% to USD 8.4 billion and the operating income margin was 29.4% of net sales, up from 28.8% in 2008. Core operating income (USD 9.1 billion, +10%, including adverse currency impact of six percentage points) also grew well ahead of net sales on the strong volume expansion in local currencies and productivity gains of nearly USD 1 billion, which resulted in the core operating income margin rising 0.3 percentage points to 31.8% of net sales.

The improved core operating income performance also absorbed a dilution of 1.1 percentage points in lower Other Revenues, mainly due to the end of Betaseron® royalties in late 2008. The operational expansion, along with reinvestments of some productivity gains, enabled major investments in new product launches and rapid expansion of top emerging markets such as China. Marketing & Sales expenses fell 1.6 percentage points to 29.3% of net sales in 2009 as productivity improvements more than offset costs for the ongoing worldwide launches of many new products including Galvus, Exelon Patch, Valturna and the Tekturna/Rasilez portfolio. R&D investments supported the start of 14 new Phase III trials in 2009, with R&D representing 20.0% of net sales in 2009 compared to 20.3% in 2008. Among items excluded from core operating income in 2009 that totaled USD 676 million, which was largely unchanged from USD 670 million in 2008, were a USD 318 million increase in legal provisions as part of pending settlements to resolve US federal investigations into past marketing practices of Trileptal. Also in 2009, the ongoing strong sales performance of Famvir outside the US enabled the partial reversal of an impairment charge taken in 2007, providing a one-time gain of USD 100 million.

Vaccines and Diagnostics

Operating income of USD 372 million rose sharply from USD 78 million in 2008, with the operating income margin rising to 15.3% from 4.4% in 2008. Core operating income of USD 719 million in 2009 included substantial contributions from A (H1N1) pandemic flu vaccine sales enabled by significant development and manufacturing investments earlier in the year. Clinical trials for the pandemic vaccines and investments in the late-stage meningitis development vaccines led to R&D costs still rising as a percentage of net sales in 2009 compared to 2008. Results in 2008 included sales from major deliveries of A (H5N1) pandemic flu vaccines.

Sandoz

Operating income declined 1% to USD 1.1 billion, which included an adverse currency impact of 11 percentage points, with the operating income margin unchanged at 14.3% of net sales. Core operating income fell 2% to USD 1.4 billion. Improved business conditions in key markets and productivity gains, particularly in Marketing & Sales and R&D, reduced the total cost base while supporting investments in emerging markets and new products. However, the underlying improvements were more than offset by significant price erosion and the adverse currency impact, resulting in the core operating income margin falling 0.2 percentage points to 18.6% of net sales.

Consumer Health 
Operating income fell 3% to USD 1.0 billion, which included an adverse currency impact of 10 percentage points, and the operating income margin in 2009 fell 0.5 percentage points to 17.5% of net sales. Core operating income benefited from the strong underlying business expansion and productivity gains. However, it declined 1% to USD 1.1 billion due to the adverse currency impact and major investments to launch the OTC product Prevacid24HR in the US, which resulted in the core operating income margin declining slightly to 19.2% of net sales in 2009 from 19.4% in 2008.

Corporate Income & Expense, net

Corporate income and expense, net, as well as related core measures, increased mainly due to higher pension expenses.

Fourth quarter

 

Net sales

 
 Q4 2009
 Q4 2008
 % change
 
 
 USD m
 USD m
 USD
 lc
 
Pharmaceuticals
 7 773
 6 430
 21
 13
 
Vaccines and Diagnostics
 1 387
 491
 182
 166
 
Sandoz
 2 143
 1 804
 19
 10
 
Consumer Health
 1 623
 1 352
 20
 13
 
Net sales
 12 926
 10 077
 28
 20
 

Pharmaceuticals: USD 7.8 billion (+21%, +13% lc)

Sustained dynamic growth in the 2009 fourth quarter driven by rapid uptake of new products and ongoing expansion in all major markets. Recently launched products provided USD 1.4 billion of net sales in the 2009 quarter, rising to 18% of the division's net sales from 12% in the 2008 quarter. These products also provided eight percentage points of the 13% lc net sales growth in the quarter. Among new product launches initiated in the 2009 quarter were Onbrez Breezhaler (COPD) in Germany following European regulatory approval in November.

Recently launched products provided important contributions in Oncology (USD 2.5 billion, +14% lc), which benefited from the new anti-cancer medicine Afinitor (USD 32 million) approved in 2009 and new clinical data supporting Tasigna (USD 68 million, +101% lc). Cardiovascular and Metabolism (USD 2.4 billion, +10% lc) benefited from rapid expansion of the diabetes medicine Galvus (USD 66 million, +211% lc), while Novartis expanded its share of the global branded anti-hypertension market on gains recorded for Diovan in all key markets as well as the rollout of new single-pill combination therapies involving Tekturna/Rasilez and Exforge. The ophthalmics medicine Lucentis (USD 374 million, +44% lc) also continued to show strong gains.

Europe (USD 2.9 billion, +14% lc) solidified its position as the largest region. Gains were also seen in the US (USD 2.5 billion, +12% lc), while Japan (USD 889 million, +9% lc) continued to benefit from new launches in 2009. The six top emerging markets (USD 712 million, +22% lc) advanced at a rapid pace, led by gains in China, Russia and India that more than offset recent governmental cost-containment measures in Turkey.

 

Vaccines and Diagnostics: USD 1.4 billion (+182%, +166% lc)

USD 1.0 billion of net sales in the 2009 period came from deliveries of A (H1N1) pandemic flu vaccines and adjuvants. Seasonal flu vaccines were adversely impacted by a price decline, while pediatric vaccines helped offset lower sales of tick-borne encephalitis vaccines.

Sandoz: USD 2.1 billion (+19%, +10% lc)

Solid growth in key markets was in line with the consistent pace throughout 2009, with completion of the EBEWE Pharma acquisition in September adding five percentage points of growth in the 2009 quarter. US retail generics and biosimilars (+24%) achieved a third consecutive quarter of growth in 2009 with more new product launches than 2008. German retail generics and biosimilars (+1% lc) extended its lead in a deteriorating environment. Key emerging markets kept up their expansion, particularly in Asia-Pacific (+10% lc).

 

Consumer Health: USD 1.6 billion (+20%, +13% lc)

Very strong growth across all businesses was led by OTC expansion at a double-digit rate in local currencies on the strength of the US launch of Prevacid24HR in November and strong demand for "cough & cold" products. Continued momentum of new contact lens products supported CIBA Vision, while Animal Health advanced on market share gains in the US.

 


 

Core operating income

 
 Q4 2009
 Q4 2008
 Change
 
 
 USD m
 % of

net

sales
 USD m
 % of

net

sales
 %
 
Pharmaceuticals
 2 215
 28.5
 1 803
 28.0
 23
 
Vaccines and Diagnostics
 653
 47.1
 55
 12.5
 NM
 
Sandoz
 356
 16.6
 296
 16.4
 20
 
Consumer Health
 248
 15.3
 209
 15.5
 19
 
Corporate income and expenses, net
 -268
  -273
  
Core operating income
 3 204
 24.8
 2 090
 20.8
 53
 

Pharmaceuticals

Operating income rose 22% to USD 1.9 billion, and the operating income margin improved 0.2 percentage points to 24.5% of net sales. Core operating income advanced 23%, well ahead of sales and included four percentage points of positive currency impact.

The strong business expansion, with net sales rising 13% lc, and benefits of productivity initiatives resulted in double-digit core operating income gains after investments in product launches, key development projects and geographic expansion. Marketing & Sales expenses were 30.3% of net sales, declining three percentage points from the 2008 period. R&D investments also benefited from productivity efforts, but remained largely steady at 21.0% of net sales amid investments in oncology, biologics and molecular diagnostics. As a result, the core operating income margin rose 0.5 percentage points to 28.5% of net sales. Cost of Goods Sold were 18.1% of net sales, an increase of 2.7 percentage points, reflecting higher Lucentis royalties and the short-term impact of an accelerated inventory reduction program in the quarter. Among exceptional items excluded in core operating income for 2009 that totaled USD 309 million were a USD 318 million increase in legal provisions as part of pending settlements to resolve US federal investigations into past marketing practices of Trileptal as well as a one-time gain of USD 100 million from the partial reversal of an impairment charge in 2007 for Famvir due to ongoing strong sales growth outside the US in the meantime. Core adjustments in 2008 excluded total exceptional items of USD 241 million.

Vaccines and Diagnostics

Operating income rose to USD 583 million from USD 26 million in the 2008 period, while core operating income of USD 653 million in the 2009 quarter reflected the recognition of exceptional contributions from sales of A (H1N1) pandemic flu vaccines during the period that were made possible by significant investments in development and manufacturing earlier in the year.

Sandoz

Operating income grew 11% to USD 221 million, which was reduced by seven percentage points of adverse currency impact. Core operating income improved on strong economies of scale and high growth in the US, advancing 20% to USD 356 million. As a result, the core operating income margin improved 0.2 percentage points to 16.6% of net sales. Core results excluded higher acquisition-related charges and exceptional items totaling USD 135 million in 2009 (including EBEWE acquisition costs and restructuring in Germany) compared to USD 96 million in 2008.

Consumer Health

Operating income was up 9% to USD 207 million in the 2009 quarter, which included nine percentage points of positive currency impact. However, the operating income margin declined 1.3 percentage points to 12.8% of net sales. Core operating income, which excluded higher impairment and other exceptional charges of USD 22 million in 2009 over the 2008 period, grew 19% to USD 248 million as productivity gains and cost controls helped free up resources for increased Marketing & Sales investments for the launch of Prevacid24HR in the US and R&D projects. As a result, the core operating income margin declined only 0.2 percentage points to 15.3% of net sales.

Corporate Income & Expense, net

Net corporate expenses in the fourth quarter of 2009 were slightly lower than in the 2008 period, as positive currency exchange movements and a gain on the sale of financial assets more than offset higher pension costs.

 

 

FINANCIAL REVIEW

 

Full year and fourth quarter

 

 
 2009
 2008
 Change
 Q4 2009
 Q4 2008
 Change
 
 
 USD m
 USD m
 %
 USD m
 USD m
 %
 
Core operating income
 11 437
 10 319
 11
 3 204
 2 090
 53
 
Income from associated companies
 1 051
 839
 25
 252
 266
 -5
 
Financial income
 198
 384
 -48
 104
 58
 79
 
Interest expense
 -551
 -290
 90
 -156
 -76
 105
 
Taxes
 -1 868
 -1 751
 7
 -512
 -371
 38
 
Core net income
 10 267
 9 501
 8
 2 892
 1 967
 47
 
Core basic EPS (USD)
 4.50
 4.18
 8
 1.26
 0.86
 47
 

Income from associated companies

For the fourth quarter of 2009, income from associated companies rose 10% to USD 107 million, but fell 34% to USD 293 million for the full year, mainly due to USD 189 million of exceptional charges in the third quarter of 2009 related to Roche's restructuring of Genentech and Alcon's decision to stop a development project. Core results in the fourth quarter declined 5% to USD 252 million due to losses from Idenix after it became an associated company when the Group's shareholding fell below 50% in late 2009. Full-year core income from associated companies rose 25% to USD 1.1 billion on increased underlying contributions from Roche as well as full-year equity accounting of the 25% Alcon stake after the mid-2008 purchase.

Financial income and interest expense

Financial income rose 79% to USD 104 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, primarily from realized gains and lower impairment charges for marketable securities as well as average liquidity of USD 15.7 billion compared to USD 7.2 billion in the 2008 quarter. Interest expense more than doubled in the 2009 quarter to USD 156 million following the issuance of US dollar and euro bonds in the first half of the year. Reflecting these same factors for the full year, financial income declined 48% to USD 198 million, while interest expenses rose 90% to USD 551 million.

 

Taxes

The tax rate (taxes as a percentage of pre-tax income) in the fourth quarter of 2009 was 13.7% compared to 14.3% in the prior-year quarter, while the full-year tax rate rose to 14.8% from 14.1%. For core results, the tax rate in the fourth quarter of 2009 declined to 15.0% from 15.9% in the 2008 period. The core tax rate in 2009 was 15.4%, down from 15.6% in 2008.

 

Net income

In the fourth quarter of 2009, net income rose 54% to USD 2.3 billion, while net income for the full year rose 4% to USD 8.5 billion. Core net income advanced 47% to USD 2.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009. For the full year, core net income rose 8% to USD 10.3 billion.

Earnings per share

Basic earnings per share (EPS) in the fourth quarter were up 53% to USD 1.01 from USD 0.66 in the 2008 quarter, while full-year basic EPS rose 3% to USD 3.70 compared to USD 3.59 in 2008, at a slightly slower pace than net income in 2009 due to higher net income attributable to minority interests. For quarterly core results, basic EPS rose in line with core net income in the 2009 quarter, up 47% to USD 1.26 from USD 0.86 in the 2008 period, while full-year basic EPS grew 8% to USD 4.50 from USD 4.18 in 2008.

 

Balance sheet

The acquisition of EBEWE Pharma's specialty generics business and USD 7.1 billion of investments in marketable securities with proceeds from bond issues in 2009 led to an increase in total assets, which rose to USD 95.6 billion in 2009 from USD 78.3 billion in 2008.

The Group's equity rose to USD 57.5 billion at December 31, 2009, from USD 50.4 billion at the start of the year. The increase resulted mostly from USD 8.5 billion in net income in 2009, actuarial gains of USD 0.9 billion and currency translation gains of USD 0.8 billion. Other equity movements provided a net increase of USD 0.8 billion, mainly from share-based compensation of USD 0.6 billion. These contributions more than offset the dividend payment of USD 3.9 billion in the 2009 first quarter.

The Group's debt/equity ratio rose to 0.24:1 at the end of 2009 compared to 0.15:1 at the end of 2008, reflecting issuance of a USD 5 billion bond (two tranches) in the US in the first quarter and a EUR 1.5 billion bond (USD 2.1 billion) in the second quarter. At the end of 2009, the Group's financial debt of USD 14.0 billion consisted of USD 5.3 billion in current and USD 8.7 billion in non-current liabilities.

Overall liquidity rose to USD 17.4 billion at December 31, 2009, more than double the year-end 2008 level of USD 6.1 billion, underpinned by increasing cash flow from operations and proceeds from the bond issues. Novartis returned to a net liquidity position at the end of 2009, which stood at USD 3.5 billion compared to net debt (financial debt net of liquidity) of USD 1.2 billion at the end of 2008.

Credit agencies maintained their ratings of Novartis debt during 2009. Moody's rated the Group as Aa2 for long-term maturities and P-1 for short-term maturities, and Standard & Poor's had ratings of AA- for long-term and A-1+ for short-term maturities. Fitch had a long-term rating of AA and a short-term rating of F1+.

 

Cash flow

Cash flow from operating activities improved 25% in 2009 to USD 12.2 billion based on higher profitability and initiatives to reduce working capital requirements, which fell USD 1.3 billion from 2008 levels.

Cash outflows from investing activities amounted to USD 14.2 billion in 2009 compared to USD 10.4 billion in 2008, as lower capital expenditures of USD 1.9 billion (which declined to 4.3% of net sales in 2009 compared to 5.1% in 2008) was more than offset by investments in marketable securities and increased investments totaling USD 12.3 billion in intangible, non-current and financial assets, including the EBEWE Pharma generics acquisition.

Cash inflows from financing activities were a net USD 2.8 billion in 2009, as proceeds of USD 7.1 billion from the bond issues were partially offset by the dividend payment of USD 3.9 billion for 2008 and other items totaling USD 0.4 billion.

Free cash flow before dividends rose 24% to USD 9.4 billion in 2009, reflecting the strong focus on business performance and control of fixed and working capital.

 

 


PHARMACEUTICALS PRODUCT REVIEW
Note: Net sales growth data refer to full-year 2009 performance in local currencies.
Cardiovascular and Metabolism

 

Diovan (USD 6.0 billion, +6% lc) achieved solid worldwide growth based on its status as the only medicine in the angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) class approved for all three indications to treat high blood pressure, high-risk heart attack survivors and heart failure. Japan now accounts for 20% of annual sales, while growth was seen in Europe, where the expected entry of generic versions of losartan, another medicine in the ARB segment, was delayed until the first half of 2010. In the US (+4%), Diovan increased its leadership of the ARB segment despite the overall shrinking of the branded anti-hypertension market due to increasing use of generic medicines in other anti-hypertensive classes.

Exforge (USD 671 million, +72% lc), a single-pill combination of the angiotensin receptor blocker Diovan (valsartan) and the calcium channel blocker amlodipine, has delivered above-market growth and set new standards for high blood pressure combination therapies since its launch in 2007. Exforge HCT, which adds a diuretic, was launched in the US in April 2009 as a single-pill therapy with three medicines. Exforge received approval in Japan in January 2010.

Tekturna/Rasilez (USD 290 million, +104% lc), the first in a new class of medicines known as direct renin inhibitors to treat high blood pressure, has been growing consistently since its launch in 2007 based on positive clinical data demonstrating its prolonged efficacy in lowering blood pressure for more than 24 hours and superiority in clinical trials over ramipril, a leading ACE inhibitor. Valturna - a single-pill combination with Diovan (valsartan) - was launched in the US in late 2009, joining the group of single-pill combinations that involve aliskiren, the active ingredient in Tekturna/Rasilez. A single-pill combination of aliskiren and amlodipine was submitted for US and European approvals in 2009, and a triple-combination with amlodipine and a diuretic is expected to be submitted in 2010.
Galvus/Eucreas (USD 181 million, +327% lc), oral treatments for type 2 diabetes, have achieved rapid success in many European, Latin American and Asia-Pacific markets since first launched in 2007. Galvus and Eucreas, a single-pill combination of Galvus with metformin that accounts for the majority of sales, have outperformed a competitor medicine in the DPP-4 segment in some countries. Galvus was approved in Japan in January 2010 with the brand name Equa.

Oncology

Gleevec/Glivec (USD 3.9 billion, +12% lc), a targeted therapy for some forms of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), achieved sustained double-digit growth based on its leadership position in treating these cancers backed by new clinical data and regulatory approvals. The latest approval in 2009 was for use in adjuvant (post-surgery) GIST patients, which is now approved in more than 55 countries in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

 

Tasigna (USD 212 million, +145% lc), a second-line therapy for patients with a form of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) resistant or intolerant to prior therapy, including Gleevec/Glivec, has gained rapid acceptance following its approval in more than 80 countries. In December 2009, Tasigna was submitted for US and European regulatory approvals for first-line use in CML after new data from the global ENESTnd trial, the largest head-to-head comparison of a targeted therapy against Glivec ever conducted, showed Tasigna produced faster and deeper responses than Glivec in newly diagnosed CML patients. Trials are underway examining the use of Tasigna in CML with suboptimal response to Glivec, as well as a Phase III trial in patients with GIST.

 

Zometa (USD 1.5 billion, +9% lc), an intravenous bisphosphonate therapy for patients with certain types of cancer that has spread to bones, is growing due to improved compliance and use in existing indications. US and European regulatory submissions were completed in late 2009 for the use of Zometa in adjuvant breast cancer in premenopausal women based on published anticancer data for this indication. Studies are underway to review potential benefits in other tumor types.


 

Femara (USD 1.3 billion, +16% lc), an oral therapy for postmenopausal women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer, saw strong sales growth in 2009 due to growth in the initial adjuvant (post-surgery) setting. In August 2009, "The New England Journal of Medicine" published results from the landmark BIG 1-98 study affirming that the five-year upfront use of Femara after surgery was an optimal treatment approach for postmenopausal women with early-stage, hormone-receptor positive breast cancer. These data were submitted in the US and Europe for inclusion in product information.

Sandostatin (USD 1.2 billion, +7% lc), for patients with acromegaly and symptoms associated with neuroendocrine tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas, has grown from increasing use of Sandostatin LAR, the once-monthly version that accounts for nearly 90% of net sales. Recent clinical trial data demonstrated a significant delay in tumor progression in patients with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors of the midgut treated with Sandostatin LAR. These data formed the basis of a recent US National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) update on treatment guidelines for neuroendocrine tumors.

Exjade (USD 652 million, +27% lc), currently approved in more than 90 countries as the only once-daily oral therapy for transfusional iron overload, received regulatory approvals in 2009 in the US, Europe, Switzerland and other countries to extend the dose range to 40 mg/kg. This new dosing range provides a new option to patients who require dose intensification due to high iron burdens. Novartis submitted new safety information to health authorities worldwide in mid-2009. The new labeling was approved in Europe in November, providing new guidance on the selection of appropriate myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and malignant disease patients for Exjade therapy. US and Japanese regulatory authorities are also reviewing this data.

 

Afinitor (USD 70 million), an oral inhibitor of the mTOR pathway, was launched in the US, Europe and Switzerland after gaining regulatory approvals in 2009 as a treatment for advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC, kidney cancer) following VEGF-targeted therapy. Afinitor is being studied in many cancer types. Phase III studies are underway in patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NET), breast cancer, lymphoma, tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and gastric cancer. Two potential regulatory submissions are planned for 2010 based on the outcome of clinical trials of this medicine in patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NET) as well as tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). A late-stage trial is planned to start in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in early 2010. The active ingredient, everolimus, is the same as in the transplant therapy Certican.

Other Pharmaceuticals products

Lucentis (USD 1.2 billion, +47% lc), a biotechnology eye therapy now approved in more than 80 countries, delivered sustained growth on top performances in France, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan. Lucentis is the only treatment proven to maintain and improve vision in patients with "wet" age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in people over age 50. Lucentis was submitted in December 2009 for European regulatory approval for treatment of visual impairment due to diabetic macular edema (DME), an eye condition related to longstanding diabetes that may lead to blindness. Late-stage clinical trials are underway in other eye conditions. Genentech holds the US rights to this medicine.

 

Exelon/Exelon Patch (USD 954 million, +22% lc), a therapy for mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer's disease dementia as well as dementia linked with Parkinson's disease, achieved more than half of its sales from Exelon Patch, the novel skin patch launched in late 2007 that is now available in more than 60 countries worldwide.
 

Reclast/Aclasta (USD 472 million, +88% lc), a once-yearly infusion therapy for osteoporosis, continues to expand on increasing patient access to infusion centers and a broad range of use in patients with various types of this debilitating bone disease. Approvals have been received for up to six indications, including the treatment of osteoporosis in men and postmenopausal women.
 

Xolair (USD 338 million, +65% lc, Novartis sales), a biotechnology drug for moderate to severe persistent allergic asthma in the US and severe persistent allergic asthma in Europe, maintained solid growth due to its global presence and approvals in more than 80 countries, including Japan since early 2009. In August 2009, Xolair received European regulatory approval to treat children age six and older. Novartis co-promotes Xolair with Genentech in the US and shares a portion of operating income. In 2009, Genentech's US sales were USD 571 million.

Certican (USD 118 million, +31% lc), a transplantation medicine, generated solid growth based on its availability in more than 70 countries. In the US, the FDA issued a Complete Response letter in December 2009 for this medicine (under the brand name Zortress) for prevention of organ rejection in adult kidney transplant patients. The FDA discussions focus on product labeling and Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS) as well as a safety update, but no request for more clinical studies. This medicine, which has the same active ingredient as Afinitor (everolimus), has been shown to have good immunosuppressive efficacy and a manageable side-effect profile.

 

Extavia (USD 49 million), for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), was launched in 2009 in the US and more than 20 other countries, marking the entry of Novartis into the field of MS. Extavia is the Novartis-branded version of Betaferon®/Betaseron®.

 

Ilaris, a fully human monoclonal antibody that blocks action of the inflammatory protein interleukin-1 beta, has been launched after receiving first approvals during 2009 in the US, Europe and some other markets for treatment of cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome (CAPS), a group of rare lifelong auto-inflammatory disorders. Trials are ongoing in other diseases in which IL-1 beta is believed to play an important role. Other diseases include refractory gout, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), type 2 diabetes and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA).

 

 

R&D UPDATE

Novartis has one of the industry's most competitive pipelines with 145 projects in pharmaceutical clinical development, of which 60 involve new molecular entities.

Pharmaceuticals
 

AIN457, a fully human monoclonal antibody that blocks action of interleukin-17A - a major trigger of inflammation involved in a variety of diseases such as uveitis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis - has begun Phase III studies in November 2009 for use in treating a form of uveitis, an inflammation in the eye, with regulatory submissions possible in 2010.

 

Gilenia (FTY720, fingolimod), a once-daily oral compound in development for certain forms of multiple sclerosis, was submitted in December 2009 for US and European regulatory approvals. The clinical program provides safety experience in more than 2,300 MS patients, including some patients in their sixth year of therapy.

 

QAB149 (indacaterol), a once-daily long-acting bronchodilator for adult patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), gained European regulatory approval in November 2009 as Onbrez Breezhaler and was launched in Germany in December. Onbrez Breezhaler has demonstrated greater improvements in lung function, breathlessness and quality of life compared to current therapies and is the first new inhaled compound in Europe for treatment of COPD in more than seven years. In the US, Novartis received a Complete Response letter from the FDA in October requesting additional information on the dosing proposed for QAB149. Novartis is working with the FDA to determine what clinical trials will be required.

 

Vaccines and Diagnostics

 

Menveo, a novel vaccine in development to protect against the four common A, C, W-135 and Y serogroups of meningococcal meningitis, is awaiting European regulatory approval in early 2010 after a positive opinion in December 2009 for initial use in adolescents (from age 11) and adults. A US regulatory decision is also expected in the first half of 2010. Trials are underway in other age groups.

MenB, in development as a vaccine to protect against the B serogroup of meningococcal meningitis, is in Phase III studies in Europe, where patient enrollment has been completed and a regulatory submission remains on track for 2010. The B serogroup is estimated to cause about 70% of meningococcal disease in Europe, with infants and toddlers most at risk. MenB has shown potential to be the first to protect infants as young as six months based on Phase II trial results. In the US, discussions with the FDA are planned for 2010 to determine the scope of Phase III trials.

 


Disclaimer
These materials contain certain forward-looking statements relating to the Group's business, which can be identified by terminology such as "strategic," "proposes," "to introduce," "will," "planned," "expected," "commitment," "expects," "set," "preparing," "plans," "estimates," "aims," "would," "potential," "awaiting," "estimated," "proposal," or similar expressions, or by express or implied discussions regarding potential new products, potential new indications for existing products, or regarding potential future revenues from any such products, or potential future sales or earnings of the Novartis Group or any of its divisions or business units; or regarding the potential acquisition and merger with Alcon; or by discussions of strategy, plans, expectations or intentions. You should not place undue reliance on these statements. Such forward-looking statements reflect the current views of the Group regarding future events, and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. There can be no guarantee that any new products will be approved for sale in any market, or that any new indications will be approved for existing products in any market, or that such products will achieve any particular revenue levels. Nor can there be any guarantee that the Novartis Group, or any of its divisions or business units, will achieve any particular financial results. Neither can there be any guarantee that the proposed acquisition and merger with Alcon will be completed in the expected form or within the expected time frame or at all. Nor can there be any guarantee that Novartis will be able to realize any of the potential synergies, strategic benefits or opportunities as a result of the proposed acquisition. In particular, management's expectations could be affected by, among other things, unexpected clinical trial results, including additional analysis of existing clinical data or unexpected new clinical data; unexpected regulatory actions or delays or government regulation generally; the Group's ability to obtain or maintain patent or other proprietary intellectual property protection; uncertainties regarding actual or potential legal proceedings, including, among others, product liability litigation, litigation regarding sales and marketing practices, government investigations and intellectual property disputes; competition in general; government, industry, and general public pricing and other political pressures; uncertainties regarding the after-effects of the recent global financial and economic crisis; uncertainties regarding future global exchange rates and uncertainties regarding future demand for our products; uncertainties involved in the development of new pharmaceutical products; the impact that the foregoing factors could have on the values attributed to the Group's assets and liabilities as recorded in the Group's consolidated balance sheet; and other risks and factors referred to in Novartis AG's current Form 20-F on file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated or expected. Novartis is providing the information in these materials as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

About Novartis

Novartis provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in these areas. In 2009, the Group's continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 44.3 billion, while approximately USD 7.5 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 100,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

 

 

Important dates

February 26, 2010
 Annual General Meeting
 
April 20, 2010
 First quarter 2010 results
 
July 15, 2010
 Second quarter and first half 2010 results
 
October 21, 2010
 Third quarter and first nine months 2010 results
 


[1] Excluding Alcon acquisition
 
All product names appearing in italics are trademarks owned by or licensed to Novartis Group Companies.

 
 
Please find full media release in English attached and on the following link:
http://hugin.info/134323/R/1377026/338141.pdf

 
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German version is available through the following link:
http://hugin.info/134323/R/1377020/338142.pdf

French version is available through the following link:
http://hugin.info/134323/R/1377019/338140.pdf
 
 
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