(Updates with closing stock price in second, sixth paragraphs.)
Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Novo Nordisk A/S, the world’s biggest insulin maker, raised the lower end of its full-year profit forecast after third-quarter profit rose 17 percent as sales of its anti-diabetes drug Victoza doubled.
Operating profit in 2011 will increase about 17 percent to 19 percent in local currencies, compared with a previous forecast of 15 percent to 19 percent, the Bagsvaerd, Denmark- based drugmaker said in a statement today. The stock rose the most in a year.
Third-quarter net income advanced to 4.2 billion kroner ($790 million) from 3.59 billion kroner a year earlier. Analysts estimated profit of 4.22 billion kroner, according to the average of 11 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 6 percent to 16.5 billion kroner, compared with the average analyst forecast of 16.4 billion kroner.
“It was a good, solid result in an environment where people were a bit nervous,” Jack Scannell, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. in London, said by phone today. “What we don’t see here is evidence that the competitive intensity has ramped up yet again, or that pricing has got yet tougher.”
Operating profit growth in 2012 will be close to 10 percent and sales growth will be in the “high single-digit” range, both in local currencies, Novo Nordisk said.
Novo Nordisk rose 4.7 percent to 570.5 kroner at the close trading, the biggest gain since Oct. 20, 2010. The stock has lost 7.9 percent this year including reinvested dividends, compared with a 5.9 percent return for the Bloomberg Europe Pharmaceutical Index of 17 drugmakers.
Victoza Sales Double
In Danish kroner, the company expects operating profit growth of about 12 percent to 14 percent, compared with a previous forecast of about 9.5 percent to 13.5 percent.
Third-quarter sales of diabetes treatment Victoza, which mimics a hormone called GLP-1 and stimulates natural insulin production, more than doubled to 1.55 billion kroner from 700 million kroner a year earlier.
Revenue from engineered insulins, including Levemir, expanded 6 percent to 7.2 billion kroner. Sales of human insulins dropped 9 percent to 2.7 billion kroner.
Sales in China fell 3 percent because of government- mandated price cuts, Novo said.
The company applied in September for U.S. regulatory approval of degludec, a long-acting insulin that is designed to succeed Levemir and which Novo Nordisk has said will unseat Sanofi’s Lantus as the world’s top-selling insulin in the next decade.
Novo Nordisk is benefiting from the global spread of diabetes, which afflicts 366 million people, killing one every seven seconds and incurring annual health-care costs of $465 billion, according to estimates by the International Diabetes Federation. The disease is caused by a lack of insulin, which the body needs to convert blood sugar into energy. Left untreated, it can lead to kidney damage, blindness, heart problems, and death.
Sales of drugs to treat the ailment grew 12 percent last year to $34 billion, making them the fourth-biggest therapeutic class by sales worldwide, behind medicines for cancer, cholesterol, and breathing disorders, according to market researcher IMS Health.
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