Novo Nordisk achieves double-digit fiscal year growth; increases Wegovy supply to U.S.

COPENHAGEN/LONDON (Reuters) – Novo Nordisk on Wednesday forecast another double-digit sales and operating profit as it begins to ease supply restrictions on its popular diet drug Wegovy. Record growth.

The company, which is racing to increase production amid shortages of Wegovy, said it would gradually increase U.S. availability of lower dosage strengths of the drug starting in January.

Novo was unable to meet runaway demand for Wegovy last year and in May began limiting the number of U.S. patients who could begin treatment by reducing its supply of the minimum three weekly doses of the appetite-suppressing injection.

Between October and December, Wegovy’s sales totaled 9.6 billion Danish kroner ($1.39 billion), slightly lower than the previous quarter but up fourfold from the same period last year.

The company said it aims to “gradually roll out limited quantities of Wegovy” outside the U.S. this year.

Novo expects sales to rise 16% to 25% this year and operating profit to rise 19% to 28% as demand surges for Wegovy and its diabetes drug Ozempic, which contains the same active ingredient.

Analysts on average expect Novo Nordisk’s sales to grow 21% this year, according to LSEG.

“We are very pleased with our strong performance in 2023, which reflects the fact that more than 40 million people have now benefited from our innovative diabetes and obesity treatments,” CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen said in a statement.

The company said fourth-quarter sales rose 37% year-on-year to 65.9 billion crowns, compared with sales of 62.3 billion crowns forecast by analysts in an LSEG survey.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) grew 57% to $26.8 billion, compared with expectations of $24.9 billion.

The results underscore Wegovy’s success and Novo’s leading position in the fast-growing obesity drug market, even as the company faces early competition from U.S. rival Eli Lilly.

Novo shareholder Markus Manns, portfolio manager at Union Investment, said the guidance was “strong” and welcomed news of improved supplies of low-dose Wegovy this month as the company scrambles to ramp up production to Meet soaring demand.

Strong demand for Wegovy and Ozempic drove Novo shares to a record high, making it Europe’s most valuable listed company with a value of more than 450 billion euros ($487 billion), ahead of LVMH.

It also provides economic wealth to its native Denmark.

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pederson and Maggie Fike; Editing by Josephine Mason, Shirley Jacob Phillips and Jane Harvey)

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