By Dominic Chopping

 

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk AS on Wednesday posted a forecast-beating rise in fourth-quarter net profit but said fewer new patients are starting treatment due to social-distancing regulations around the world.

Novo Nordisk said that for continuing trials, recruitment of new patients is still below pre-coronavirus levels.

The fourth quarter had strong sales growth within diabetes and obesity care, partially offset by lower sales of insulin, fewer new patients as a result of Covid-19, higher unemployment in the U.S. and Covid-related destocking.

Net profit for the three months to Dec. 31 rose to 9.32 billion Danish kroner ($1.51 billion) from DKK8.72 billion a year earlier, above the DKK9.08 billion forecast by analysts in a FactSet poll.

Sales slipped 0.9% to DKK32.14 billion against analysts' expectations of DKK31.85 billion.

The company said it expects full-year 2021 sales growth of 5%-9% and operating profit growth of 4%-8% on the year in local currencies. Reported growth in sales and operating profit is seen around four and six percentage points lower than growth in local currencies.

The guidance reflects expectations for sales growth of the company's diabetes-care products Ozempic and Rybelsus as well as growth within obesity care. The guidance also reflects intensifying competition both within diabetes care and biopharm, as well as continued pricing pressure within diabetes care in the U.S., it said.

The board proposed a final dividend of DKK5.85 a share for 2020 and intends to initiate a new 12-month share repurchase programme of up to DKK17 billion.

 

Write to Dominic Chopping at dominic.chopping@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 03, 2021 02:50 ET (07:50 GMT)

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