GlaxoSmithKline Q4 profit up 66 pct

GlaxoSmithKline 4th quarter profit up 66 pct with strong boost from swine flu vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the world’s second largest drug maker by revenue, reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit soared by 66 percent, boosted by strong sales of swine flu vaccine and flu medicine.

In the three months ending Dec. 31, Glaxo turned a net profit of 1.63 billion pounds ($2.6 billion), compared to 982 million pounds a year earlier.

The strong finish pushed full-year profits up 20 percent to 5.5 billion pounds.

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Sales of Relenza, the company’s drug for treating flu, totaled 720 million pounds for the year, compared to just 57 million pounds in 2008. In the fourth quarter, Relenza sales rose to 256 million pounds from 13 million pounds a year earlier.

Total vaccine sales were up 30 percent for the year to 3.7 billion, the company said. Glaxo did not break out sales figures for swine flu (H1H1) vaccine, but reported “substantial” sales in Europe in the fourth quarter.

“I believe that GSK is now moving to a position where we can deliver our goal of long-term sustainable financial performance,” said Chief Executive Andrew Witty. “2009 saw GSK return to sales growth and I am confident of our prospects in 2010.”

The company raised its full-year dividend by 7 percent to 61 pence.

Glaxo shares were up 1.6 percent at 1,237 pence on the London Stock Exchange.

The company said it aimed to cut expenditure by 500 million pounds by 2012, but said it would not announce a target for job reductions. Published reports have said that about 4,000 of GlaxoSmithKline’s 99,000 employees worldwide might be affected.

GSK said sales for the year were up 16.5 percent to 28.4 billion pounds.

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Sales gains of 16 percent in Asia Pacific and 9 percent in Europe helped offset a 13 percent drop in the United States, where Glaxo said several products suffered from generic competition.

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