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GSK sees strong growth as Haleon split and vaccine drive pays off

Published 01/31/2024, 02:13 AM
Updated 01/31/2024, 05:46 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) logo is seen in this illustration, August 10, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

By Eva Mathews

(Reuters) -GSK beat market estimates for fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, and unveiled an upbeat forecast for 2024 and beyond on the ramp-up of its vaccines and cancer drugs pipeline, underscoring the benefits of its consumer health unit spin-off.

This is the British drugmaker's first annual earnings report after it spun off Haleon in July 2022. While GSK has been selling its stake, it still remains a top shareholder in the company that owns Sensodyne toothpaste and other household brands.

CEO Emma Walmsley's strategy has been centred around sharpening GSK's focus on vaccines and infectious diseases, and shifting its HIV focus to long-acting treatment and prevention therapies, amid a series of upcoming patent expiries and declining revenue from current bestsellers.

"We are now planning for at least 12 major launches from 2025, with new Vaccines and Specialty Medicines for infectious diseases, HIV, respiratory and oncology," Walmsley said in a statement.

The company is betting on Arexvy, its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) for older adults, to be its next blockbuster medicine, as costly U.S. litigation over discontinued heartburn drug Zantac looms and it recovers from a series of setbacks in its cancer portfolio.

Arexvy clocked sales of 1.24 billion pounds for the year ended Dec. 31, following a strong second-half launch that has trounced a shot from U.S. rival Pfizer (NYSE:PFE).

GSK expects its adjusted profit per share to increase between 6% and 9% in 2024, on sales growth of 5%-7%, above analysts' expectations for growth, according to a company-supplied poll.

The company also expects sales and adjusted operating profit to grow more than 7% and 11% annually by 2026, compared with 5% and 10% forecast earlier, respectively.

By 2031, GSK now expects to achieve sales of more than 38 billion pounds, 5 billion pounds ahead of what was estimated earlier.

It reported a fourth-quarter profit of 28.9 pence per share on sales of 8.05 billion pounds ($10.20 billion), compared with analysts' average expectations of 28.63 pence profit on sales of 7.29 billion pounds, according to LSEG data.

"GSK's exposure to the US, which accounts for 52% of overall revenues, provides particularly lucrative possibilities, while Europe and International give geographical diversification as well as the occasional country-specific drug which can dominate the local market," said Richard Hunter, head of markets at interactive investor.

Shares in the company were down 1%. They are up nearly 9% in the last 12 months, compared with a 1.5% dip in London's blue-chip FTSE 100 index.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) logo is seen in this illustration, August 10, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Walmsley said the company had not seen any "meaningful impact so far", from Red Sea related shipping disruptions.

($1 = 0.7892 pounds)

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