High-flying Victoza sales push Novo's forecasts up

Novo Nordisk is really on a roll. The Danish diabetes specialist hiked its 2012 forecast, which was already a sunny spot in the pharma world. After second-quarter sales and profits both beat expectations, Novo said it expects sales growth for the full year to range from 9-12%, rather than the 8-11% previously forecast. Profits? Up 15%, instead of "at least 10%."

Fueling this growth is Novo's Victoza, which leapt by 83% year-over-year to 4.28 billion Danish crowns ($708.3 million), plus modern insulins Novo Rapid (up 22% to 7.35 billion crowns, or about $1.2 billion) and Levemir (up 28% to 4.65 billion crowns, or about $768 million). Profits especially benefited from the modern insulins, because their margins are higher than those on Novo's older insulin drugs, Reuters points out.

Overall, Novo's sales came in at 37.2 billion crowns, or $6.15 billion, with net profits of 10.01 billion crowns, or $1.66 billion.

"It is a very strong result which clearly exceed expectations that were already high," Sydbank analyst Soren Hansen told Reuters. "A raise of outlook was expected, but even in this area the company delivers with a bigger rise than forecast."

Novo's financial success comes as Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) take over Amylin Pharmaceuticals' ($AMLN) diabetes drugs Bydureon and Byetta, both competitors for Victoza. The two Big Pharma companies hope to rev up the two products' sales by applying their own diabetes sales expertise. And despite the fact that the diabetes market is quickly growing worldwide, Bristol and AZ no doubt aim to steal sales from Victoza.

Novo CFO Jesper Brandgaard says he's not too worried about Bydureon knocking the wind out of Victoza, at least not outside the U.S. "We are only seeing a marginal impact on Victoza sales from Bydureon, excluding the United States," Brandgaard said. It'll be interesting to watch how the new Bydureon/Byetta marketing scheme works as the year goes on.

- see the release from Novo
- read the Reuters news
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