ZURICH, July 17 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis hiked its outlook for the full-year as delays to a generic competitor for its blockbuster blood pressure pill Diovan softened the blow of patent losses.
The Basel-based firm said it expects full-year sales to grow at a low-single digit rate in constant currencies and core earnings to decline in the low single digits. It had previously guided for a mid-single digit drop in core earnings and flat net sales.
Second-quarter core earnings per share fell 4 percent to $1.30, undershooting the Reuters analyst consensus of $1.34, while net sales inched up 1 percent to $14.488 billion, compared to the average poll forecast of $14.314 billion.
Novartis expects 2013 to be a year of transition as it bears the full brunt of last year's patent loss on Diovan. It is counting on sales of new products like cancer drug Afinitor and multiple sclerosis pill Gilenya to fill the gap. (Reporting by Caroline Copley)