Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKlin logs slumping annual profits

British pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) logged slumping annual profits after the prior year was boosted by asset sales, but forecast recovery in 2022 amid the spin-off of its healthcare division.

Profit after tax sank to just under £4.4-billion (R91.21-billion) last year, the GSK said in a statement on Wednesday.

That compared with £5.7-billion in 2020, when its bottomline was boosted by divestments.

Revenues grew 5% to £34.1-billion, helped by £1.4-billion of pandemic-related sales — particularly of antibody treatment Sotrovimab.

“We have ended the year strongly, with another quarter of excellent performance…and we enter 2022 with good momentum,” said chief executive Emma Walmsley.

The London-listed group forecast rising profit in 2022, when it will finally spin off its consumer healthcare business.

The GSK expects growth in operating profit of between 12% and 14%.

The news comes after consumer goods giant Unilever failed in a £50-billion takeover bid for the unit, which is owned by the GSK and US peer Pfizer.

Glaxo revealed last month that it had received three unsolicited offers for the health care division from Unilever but rejected them all as too low.

Unilever has already stated it will not increase its offer.

“2022 is … the year when we demerge our world-leading consumer healthcare business,” Walmsley said. “Later this month, we will set out the future growth ambitions and highly attractive financial profile of this business and the outstanding opportunity it provides for shareholders.”

Walmsley, who headed the GSK consumer unit before its merger with Pfizer and her promotion to GlaxoSmithKline chief executive, has faced severe shareholder pressure over her company’s delays in producing Covid jabs and treatments.

Activist investors have slammed the GSK over its failure to swiftly produce a successful Covid vaccine, unlike Anglo-Swedish rival AstraZeneca.

Glaxo is due in the first quarter to reveal final clinical results from a Covid vaccine that it has developed alongside French peer Sanofi.

In midday London deals on Monday, GSK shares dipped 0.9% to 1 629 pence.

“The results were little more than a blip on the radar with no major surprises,” noted Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laura Hoy.

“The market’s waiting for the [healthcare] demerger to complete, or another suitor to arrive, so the rosy results did little to move the dial.” — AFP

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