Q4 earnings updates: Biogen beats on strong MS sales, no 'quick fix' on Alcon for Novartis
- Swiss drug giant Novartis and U.S. biotech Biogen reported Q4 2015 earnings on Wednesday that respectively missed and swept past analyst expectations.
- Novartis' Q4 revenues were down 4.3% year-over-year to $12.52 billion while its core net income fell 5%. The company said that much of the fall could be attributed to its struggling eye care unit Alcon, which dragged down numbers despite "strong sales growth" in its core pharma business.
- On the other hand, Biogen's sales of the multiple sclerosis medication Tecfidera nearly hit the billion-dollar mark in Q4, shooting past analyst expectations by about 7% with $993 million in sales. The firm's overall revenues were bolstered by 7.5% to $2.84 billion.
Novartis has been struggling with Alcon for a while now, prompting the firm to lay out a strategic growth plan for the eye care unit. Alcon has been hit by patent expirations and falling sales.
"The specific growth plan on Alcon is that we're going to focus the business on that core surgical and cataract surgery business," Novartis chief Joe Jimenez told CNBC in an interview of plans to revitalize the unit.
As has been the case for many pharma companies that operate all over the world, Novartis also said that currency fluctuations and a strong dollar ate into its sales numbers by as much as 10%. The drug giant is planning a restructuring effort in its R&D arm that aims to save $1 billion per year beginning in 2020.
Biogen is also in the midst of a massive reorganization, including the culling of a full 11% of its global workforce which was announced at the end of last year. One major goal of that reduction is to funnel more cash into its ambitious (and risky) Alzheimer's research program.
The biotech has come under fire for its own role in hiking drug prices in order to bolster earnings, although CEO George Scangos has defended this tactic by pointing to research for newer drugs.