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GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) Wednesday returned to sales growth in the first quarter and raised its target for share buybacks, voicing confidence that its future will be driven by recent diversification, new products and expansion in emerging markets.
Chief Executive Andrew Witty said the company's main businesses are performing well despite challenges from generic competition and continued pressure on prices in Europe, where sales fell 5%.
"We remain confident in the long term growth prospects of this business and continue to invest behind our objective to grow ahead of the market," Witty said in a statement.
Net profit in the three months to March 31 was GBP1.33 billion, down 13% compared with GBP1.53 billion a year earlier when the company booked gains from the sale of its stake in Quest Diagnostics. Analysts had forecast GBP1.32 billion. Sales for the quarter rose 0.8% to GBP6.64 billion, missing analysts' forecasts of GBP6.79 billion.
The U.K.'s largest drug maker, which last year bought back around GBP2.2 billion worth of its shares, said it is raising its targeted buyback in 2012 to between GBP2 billion and GBP2.5 billion following the recent disposal of over-the-counter brands.
At 1124 GMT, Glaxo shares in London were trading down 34 pence, or 2.3%, at 1423.50 pence, valuing the company at GBP71.76 billion. At the same time, the FTSE 100 index was up 0.2%.
-By Sten Stovall, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 207 842 9292; firstname.lastname@example.org
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