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Novartis quarterly profit misses estimates amid Alcon woes

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Novartis AG, Europe's second-largest drugmaker, posted fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts' estimates as sales at its Alcon eye-care unit continued to plummet and the strength of the US dollar eroded the value of global revenues.

[BERLIN] Novartis AG, Europe's second-largest drugmaker, posted fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts' estimates as sales at its Alcon eye-care unit continued to plummet and the strength of the US dollar eroded the value of global revenues.

A measure of profit that the company calls core net income, which excludes results from operations that have been sold or discontinued as well as some costs, declined 5 per cent percent to US$2.71 billion, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Wednesday. That missed the US$2.9 billion average of 12 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Sales at Alcon, which Novartis acquired for about US$41.2 billion in 2010-11, fell 13 per cent in the quarter. The company announced the following changes to Alcon:

- Mike Ball will replace Jeff George as chief executive for Alcon from Feb 1

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- Alcon's ophthalmic pharmaceuticals business will be combined with the drugmaker's broader pharma unit In other changes, Vas Narasimhan was appointed global head of drug development and Andre Wyss was appointed president of Novartis Operations.

Novartis also forecast that sales and core operating income in 2016 would be largely unchanged from last year, on a constant exchange rate basis. Alcon will show low single digit growth, the company said.

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