* Q4 sales beat expectations
* Full-year sales down 6%
* Expects return to annual growth in 2020 (Adds detail on outlook, dividend, background)
COPENHAGEN, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Danish drugmaker Lundbeck beat fourth-quarter sales expectations on Thursday helped by a stronger performance from key drugs and said it expected to return to full-year growth in 2020.
The Copenhagen-based company posted quarterly sales of 4.42 billion Danish crowns ($650.54 million), above an average of 4.26 billion forecast by analysts in a Refinitiv Eikon poll.
“We are very pleased with the strong financial results with revenue higher than initially expected thanks to a strong performance from our strategic brands,” CEO Deborah Dunsire said in a statement.
Overall sales in 2019 dropped 6%. The fall was mainly due to competition from generic versions of epilepsy drug Onfi, previously its biggest brand, which were introduced in late 2018.
Lundbeck, which specialises in treatments for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and depression, expects sales in 2020 to grow by 2-6%.
It said that range was wider than normal due to the unknown impact from coronavirus in China, its second-biggest market.
Lundbeck’s four strategic brands, including depression drug Brintellix and schizophrenia drug Abilify, grew 28% in 2019, representing 55% of total revenue.
The firm proposed a dividend of 4.1 crowns per share.
$1 = 6.7944 Danish crowns Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; editing by Bernard Orr and Jason Neely