Novartis Swallows Excedrin
Novartis Swallows Excedrin
NEW YORK - Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said it reached an agreement to sell its U.S. and Canadian consumer medicines business to Novartis for $660 million in cash. The division, which reported $242 million in sales last year, includes Excedrin for headaches, the cold and flu medicine Comtrex and Keri moisturizers. Novartis' consumer products division, which reported second-quarter sales of $1.8 billion on Thursday, includes Ex-lax laxative, Maalox antacid, Theraflu adult cold and flu treatment and Triaminic for children's coughs and colds.
Novartis spokesman Nehl Horton said the deal will improve the company's over-the-counter offering and give it more clout with distributors.
He noted that Excedrin is one of the top 10 selling brands in the over-the-counter market. Horton said the brand had sales of $161 million last year, and with additional marketing power, it can be a real growth driver for Novartis' consumer division.
Bristol-Myers has been shedding non-core assets as part of a strategy to focus on developing drugs for just 10 disease areas.
Earlier this year, it announced that it was seeking a buyer for the U.S. and Canadian consumer business and sold a cancer drug distribution unit. Three years ago, it sold the Clairol hair care line.
Bristol-Myers shares rose 17 cents to close at $25.07 on Thursday. Novartis shares traded in the United States rose $1.08, or 2.3 percent, to close at $48.28.
On Thursday, Novartis, which has its North American headquarters in East Hanover, posted a second-quarter net profit of $1.65 billion - up 9 percent because of strong sales of its prescription drugs.
The company earned $1.51 billion in the same period last year.
Second-quarter sales rose 12 percent to $7.8 billion from $6.97 billion in the second quarter of 2004, as strong sales across all divisions offset restructuring costs.
Second-quarter profits were higher than analysts' expectations.
Net profit for the first six months of the year rose 12 percent to $3.12 billion from $2.78 billion.
"In the first half-year, our broad health care portfolio delivered good results," chairman and CEO Daniel Vasella said. "Overall, we are on track to achieve our objectives for 2005."
The company expects almost 10 percent growth in sales for the full year and a higher operating profit than in 2004, it said.
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