British pharmaceuticals group GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) posted declining annual profits after the previous year was boosted by asset sales, but expects a recovery in 2022 as part of the spin-off of its healthcare division.
After-tax profit fell to just under £4.4 billion (R91.21 billion) last year, GSK said in a statement on Wednesday.
That compares to £5.7bn in 2020, when its bottom line was boosted by divestitures.
Revenue rose 5% to £34.1bn, helped by £1.4bn of pandemic-related sales – particularly from antibody treatment Sotrovimab.
“We ended the year strong, with another quarter of excellent performance…and we enter 2022 with good momentum,” Chief Executive Emma Walmsley said.
The London-listed group expects its profits to rise in 2022, when it will finally divest its consumer healthcare business.
GSK expects operating profit growth of between 12% and 14%.
The news comes after consumer goods giant Unilever failed in a £50bn takeover bid for the unit, which is owned by GSK and its US counterpart Pfizer.
Glaxo revealed last month that it had received three unsolicited offers for Unilever’s healthcare division but dismissed them all as too low.
Unilever has already said it will not increase its offer.
“2022 is…the year we spin off our world-leading consumer healthcare business,” Walmsley said. “Later this month, we will present the future growth ambitions and the very attractive financial profile of this company and the exceptional opportunity it offers shareholders.”
Walmsley, who led GSK’s consumer unit before its merger with Pfizer and promotion to chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, has faced heavy pressure from shareholders over his company’s delays in producing jabs and Covid treatments .
Activist investors have criticized GSK for its inability to quickly produce a successful Covid vaccine, unlike its British-Swedish rival AstraZeneca.
Glaxo is due to reveal in the first quarter the final clinical results of a Covid vaccine it has developed alongside its French counterpart Sanofi.
In midday trading in London on Monday, shares of GSK fell 0.9% to 1,629 pence.
“The results were little more than a flash on the radar with no major surprises,” noted Laura Hoy, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
“The market is waiting for the [healthcare] split to be completed, or another contender to arrive, so the positive results did little to move the dial. —AFP