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Novartis Considering Sale Of Alcon Unit After Mixed Q4 Results And Outlook

From Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) early Wednesday posted mixed Q4 earnings and offered a tepid outlook, but said it would seek to possibly sell its Alcon eye care division.

The Basel, Switzerland-based pharmaceutical products maker reported Q4 EPS of $1.14, which was $0.02 better than the Wall Street consensus estimate of $1.12. Revenues fell 1.6% from last year to $12.32 billion, falling short of analysts’ $12.44 billion view, however.

Looking ahead, NVS forecast FY17 revenues to be roughly in-line with 2016 levels of $48.5 billion, which would miss Wall Street’s current $48.92 billion estimate.

In perhaps the biggest news stemming from the report, Novartis noted is considering strategic options for the consumer eye care Alcon Division. NVS will consider several options, including keeping Alcon as is, completing an IPO or spin-off, and could also seek a private bidder. The process will be conducted throughout 2017.

The company commented via press release:

“Novartis delivered a solid performance in 2016, absorbing Gleevec US loss of exclusivity while investing in key launches and the Alcon Division turnaround. Cosentyx reached blockbuster status in 2016, and the conditions are now in place for Entresto sales to accelerate in 2017. We made major strides in advancing our pipeline, executing our bolt-on M&A strategy and implementing our new focused organization. Today we are proposing an increase in our dividend and initiating a share buyback of up to USD 5 billion. Additionally, we are reviewing options for the Alcon Division to maximize shareholder value.”

Novartis AG shares rose $1.13 (+1.61%) in premarket trading Wednesday. Year-to-date, NVS has declined -3.86%, versus a 1.82% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

NVS currently has a POWR Rating of C (Neutral), and is ranked #25 of 131 stocks in the Medical – Pharmaceuticals category.

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