Novo Nordisk Profit Beats Estimates as Victoza Sales Rise

Aug 07, 2014 2:16 pm ET

(Updates with closing shares in sixth paragraph.)

Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Novo Nordisk A/S, the world’s largest insulin maker, reported a 3.9 percent gain in second-quarter profit, helped by sales of insulins and the Victoza diabetes treatment.

Net income climbed to 6.99 billion kroner ($1.25 billion) from 6.73 billion kroner a year earlier, the Bagsvaerd, Denmark- based company said today in a statement. That beat a 6.88 billion-kroner average estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The drugmaker reiterated full-year forecasts in local currencies and said data from a trial of its Tresiba insulin will be available sooner than it expected.

Novo has been relying on Victoza, its biggest growth engine, to help sustain sales after U.S. regulators rejected Tresiba last year. Revenue from Victoza, which stimulates natural insulin production, advanced 6.3 percent to 3.06 billion kroner in the quarter, compared with the average analyst estimate of 3.17 billion kroner. Sales of so-called modern insulins, including Levemir, climbed 7.5 percent to 10.4 billion kroner.

“Levemir beat by 7 percent, making up for a weaker-than- expected performance from Victoza and human insulins,” Jefferies analysts led by Jeffrey Holford wrote in a note to clients today.

Novo had lowered its full-year sales guidance in May, citing increased competition and the loss of a U.S. distributor. Novo expects full-year sales growth of 7 percent to 10 percent in local currencies and operating profit growth of about 10 percent in local currencies.

Tresiba Study

Novo fell 1.4 percent to close at 249.30 kroner in Copenhagen. Shares have gained 30 percent in the past 12 months.

The Food and Drug Administration demanded a new study to assess the heart risk of Tresiba. Recruitment of patients for the study, dubbed Devote, has started and the trial “continues to progress ahead of plans,” Novo said today. The company now expects to have data to support an interim analysis around the “turn of the year,” it said. This could potentially allow Novo to submit the data to the FDA in the first half next year, Novo said. The company in May had predicted handing in the interim analysis by the middle of next year.

“Tresiba is doing well in key markets,” Chief Executive Officer Lars Rebien Soerensen said in the statement.

The medicine is already sold in countries including Denmark, the U.K., Switzerland, Sweden, Mexico and Japan.

Market Share

In Japan, the first country to introduce Tresiba with reimbursement levels similar to Sanofi’s Lantus in March 2013, Novo now represents 21 percent of the basal insulin market measured in monthly value market share, the company said.

Total second-quarter revenue advanced 1.2 percent to 21.6 billion kroner, compared with analysts’ 21.9 billion-kroner estimate.

Novo said it is among companies named as a defendant in product liability lawsuits related to the use of incretin-based medicines such as Victoza. So far 80 plaintiffs have claimed damages for pancreatic cancer that allegedly developed as a result of using Victoza and similar products, Novo said. The company doesn’t expect the lawsuits to have a material impact on its financial position, operating profit and cash flow.

Novo has seen insulin sales gain 14 percent a year for the last decade, helped by a global diabetes epidemic that shows no sign of abating. The company’s shares have gained about 30 percent this year including reinvested dividends, helping Novo surge past London-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc to become Europe’s fourth-biggest drugmaker by market value.

--With assistance from Caroline Chen in New York.