GSK Sees Fresh Air Ahead As Lung Drug Falters
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has endured a further fall in its value after cutting its earnings outlook for 2014 but raising hopes that new drugs will turn its fortunes around.
Britain's biggest drug manufacturer reported that operating profits fell 10% to £2.2bn in the first half of its financial year, with sales deteriorating by a worse-than-expected 13% in the second quarter alone.
The company blamed weak demand for its lung drugs in the US and the effects of a strong pound - the update sending its share price more than 3% lower on the FTSE 100.
It is seeking to rebuild its fortunes following a lengthy period of patent expiries and PR damage from a corruption scandal in China, where it has been accused of paying bribes to doctors to use its medicines.
The bribery allegations are also being investigated separately by the Serious Fraud Office in the UK.
The Chinese tale was complicated further last month when it emerged that historic video footage had come to light showing GSK's then-China boss Mark Reilly in an intimate clinch with a Chinese girlfriend.
GSK's under-pressure chief executive Sir Andrew Witty today admitted he continued to be worried by events in China but sought to reassure investors that GSK was on track to deliver sales growth.
He told a conference call the company expected multiple new drugs to enter the market each year for at least the next five years.
Sir Andrew has moved to focus on research and development at a time of significant change in the wider pharmaceuticals market which has seen rival AstraZeneca fight off advances from across the Atlantic.
Shire last week agreed a takeover by AbbVie.
Sir Andrew has previously described such activity as distracting and disruptive - seeking instead to trade more than £12bn of assets with Swiss firm Novartis to suit their conflicting priorities.
A big concern for shareholders has been GSK's reliance on its inhaled lung drug Advair, which accounts for a fifth of sales, as purchases fall and it prepares to face competition in Europe and later in the US.
Uptake of two further respiratory medicines has been slow though GSK said it was encouraged by strong growth in emerging markets - with its HIV business growing 13%.
Full year Earnings Per Share were forecast by GSK to be in line with those of 2013.