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Novo Nordisk lifts guidance and boosts buybacks

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk AS on Wednesday raised full-year guidance and increased the size of its share buyback program after posting a forecast-beating rise in first-quarter net profit.

The quarter was marked by strong sales within diabetes and obesity care, but growth this year was negatively affected by the pandemic-related stocking in the first quarter of 2020, partially offset by inventory changes and timing of shipments in 2021, the company said.

Net profit rose to 12.62 billion Danish kroner ($2.04 billion) from DKK11.9 billion, above the DKK11.73 billion forecast by analysts in a FactSet poll.

Sales slipped 0.2% to DKK33.8 billion against analysts' expectations of DKK32.32 billion.

The company said it now expects 2021 sales growth of 6%-10% from 5%-9% previously, and operating profit growth of 5%-9% from 4%-8% in local currencies. Reported growth in sales and operating profit is still seen around four and six percentage points lower than in local currencies, it said.

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

The share-buyback program has been expanded by DKK1 billion to DKK18 billion, the company said.

Write to Dominic Chopping at [email protected]

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