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Novo Nordisk A/S Injecting Future Sales

Image source: Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) released earnings on Friday, with sales hitting the upper end of the drugmaker's 2016 guidance as the company highlighted recent positive clinical trial results.

Novo Nordisk results: The raw numbers

 Metric

Q1 2016 Actuals

Q1 2015 Actuals

Growth (Decrease) YOY

Net sales

$4,017 million

$3,808 million

5%

Operating profit

$1,917 million

$2,094 million

(13%) 

Net profit

$1,396 million

$1,492 million

 (6%)

What happened with Novo Nordisk this quarter?

  • Victoza was the biggest contributor to growth with an increase of 15% in local currencies and 16% in Danish kroner even in the face of competition from Eli Lilly's (NYSE: LLY) competing GLP-1 drug, Trulicity.
  • Sales of Novo Nordisk's newest insulin are off to a good start, increasing 117% in local currencies, but it's building from a small base with just 1.4% of the U.S. market share after launching stateside in January.
  • Earnings were down year over year because of the partial divestment of its IT services business. Adjusting for the divestment, net profit and diluted earnings per share increased by 20% and 23%, respectively.
  • In March, Novo Nordisk announced positive data from LEADER, the cardiovascular outcome trial for Victoza. Full data will be presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in June.
  • Also on the clinical trial front, Novo Nordisk announced positive results from SWITCH 1 and SWITCH 2 showing Tresiba had lower risk of hypoglycemia -- low blood sugar level -- than Sanofi's Lantus.

What management had to say
President and CEO Lars Rebien Sorensen brushed off the competition from Eli Lilly's Trulicity, pointing out that while it's losing market share to Eli Lilly, the GLP-1 market is expanding, allowing Novo Nordisk to capture a smaller piece of a much larger pie. "It is correct that Trulicity is doing well and this means that we're losing share in Victoza. But we're growing our volume with a double-digit growth rate so we're satisfied with this expansion," Sorensen said.

And of course, Novo Nordisk can take some of that market share back from Eli Lilly with its once-weekly GLP-1 therapy semaglutide now that it's completed the clinical trials required for approval. "With the completion of SUSTAIN 5 and 6, we're now on track for submitting semaglutide for approval before year end," said Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen.

Looking forward
Management is sticking with its 2016 guidance for sales growth between 5% to 9% measured in local currencies. Adjusted operating profit for the year is also expected to fall in the 5% to 9% range in local currencies.

With a rash of positive clinical trial data for Victoza, Tresiba, and semaglutide, Novo Nordisk looks well positioned to grow sales in upcoming years as well.