Britain's GSK is forecasting growth in 2022 after racking up £1.4 billion (€1.7 billion) in COVID-related sales in 2021, beating quarterly forecasts in its first earnings report since rejecting Unilever's bid for its consumer arm.
The results underscore a comeback for GSK in the race to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic after it failed to bring a vaccine to the market so far.
The spin off of the consumer venture with Pfizer has also put the future in focus, as boss Emma Walmsley faces pressure from activist investors.
"We have ended the year strongly, with another quarter of excellent performance ... and we enter 2022 with good momentum," Walmsley said. "This is going to be a landmark year for GSK."
The company generated sales worth £34 billion (€40.4 billion) in its financial year 2021, up 5% compared with 2020. Sales in its pharma division increased by 10%, to £17.7 billion (€21 billion), while the consumer arm saw 4% growth in sales, to £9.6 billion (€11.4 billion).
Consumer Arm Spin Off
The drugmaker is pressing on with the spin off of its consumer arm, home to brands such as Sensodyne toothpaste and Advil painkiller, after turning down Unilever's £50 billion buyout offer for the unit in December.
But some activist investors had called on GSK to give more consideration to a potential sale of the unit. They have also questioned the ability of top management to boost the success rate of drug development, where GSK has long lagged peers.
Outlook For 2022
The company said sales in 2022, after the spin-off of its consumer arm, were expected to grow 5% to 7% and adjusted operating profit to grow 12% to 14%. That includes the boost from a settlement with Gilead but not sales of its COVID-19 products.
Analysts had forecast group earnings of 120.8 pence per share, or a rise of about 8% from 2021, on sales of £36.28 billion (€43.1 billion).
The company said it expected pandemic-related sales in 2022 to be at similar levels to 2021 but said these would contribute less to profit at 'New GSK' due to lower margins on its antibody treatment, knocking off profit by 5% to 7%.`
GSK shares were up 0.3% in early trade.
Adjusted earnings for the group stood at 25.6 pence per share for the three months to 31 December, while turnover rose 13% to £9.53 billion (€11.3 billion) at constant currency rates, topping a consensus of 23.8 pence apiece on sales of £9.49 billion (€11.27 billion).