Danish health care giant Novo Nordisk has raised the expectation for 2007 operating profit to 10%, following the release of an impressive set of half-year results, with H1 operating profit up 14% to DKK 5.1 bn (USD 938 m). This primarily reflects a sustainable improvement in gross margin, which increased to 77% in H1 from 75% for the same period last year. Overall H1 sales were up 14% in local currencies.
Progress in the US is currently a key driver. Here, H1 sales increased by 25% in local currency; the company now has a 42% volume share of the total insulin market and 29% volume share of the modern insulins market. This compares with Q1 figures of 41% and 28% respectively. Interestingly, US arch-rival Eli Lilly's Q2 figures released last week show that its fast-acting insulin analog Humalog is gaining market share by the month, but it now seems apparent that whoever Lilly is gaining share from, it is not Novo Nordisk.
Even better times could be waiting down the road for Novo Nordisk in the shape of its human GLP-1 analogue liraglutide. As reported in June on this website, the first phase 3 study showed superior performance over existing products on the market, Lilly's GLP-1 product Bayetta and Sanofi-Aventis' insulin glargine Lantus, whose annual sales in 2006 topped DKK 12 bn (USD 2.2 bn).
Novo Nordisk president and CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen commented: "The business continues to perform very well with robust sales growth and a sustained improvement in our gross margin. We are also very pleased with the first phase 3 results on liraglutide which are expected to be supported by results from additional phase 3 studies during the following months." The news was reported on Novo Nordisk's website and widely in the Danish financial media.
Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a world leader in diabetes care. The company employs more than 23,600 employees in 79 countries, and markets its products in 179 countries. Novo Nordisk’s B shares are listed on the stock exchanges in Copenhagen and London.