COPENHAGEN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Denmark’s Novo Nordisk , the world’s biggest maker of diabetes drugs, said on Thursday its chairman will step down as it reiterated its 2018 sales and operating profit growth forecasts measured in local currencies.
The firm posted a quarterly operating profit of 10.05 billion Danish crowns ($1.68 billion) on revenue of 27.99 billion crowns, down 10 percent from a year earlier and slightly below an average 10.38 billion crowns forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Novo was this week beaten by French drugmaker Sanofi in a deal to buy Belgian biotech company Ablynx . That was a blow to Novo’s efforts to broaden its blood product line-up in its biopharmaceuticals division, which makes up nearly 20 percent of group revenue.
The company said its chairman Göran Ando has decided not to seek re-election at an annual shareholder meeting in March, and that the board proposes current board member Helge Lund, former Statoil chief executive, as new chairman.
Novo reiterated its 2018 sales growth forecast to 2-5 percent and operating profit at 1-5 percent growth, both in local currencies.
However, 2018 sales and operating profit measured in Danish crowns will be hit by a weaker dollar, Novo said. Sales growth reported in Danish crowns is expected to be 7 percentage points lower than in local currencies, and reported operating profit growth is expected to be 10 percentage points lower, it said.
It had previously guided sales growth in Danish crowns to be 3 percentage points lower than in local currencies, and reported operating profit growth to be 4 percentage points lower.
With its established diabetes treatments in the firing line, especially due to U.S. price pressures, Novo is pinning hopes for growth on new obesity drugs, as well as once-weekly injection and tablet versions of its Ozempic diabetes drug.
The company is launching a once-weekly version of the drug, known generically as semaglutide, early this year and is awaiting the results of multiple clinical trials for an oral form of the drug throughout the year.
In November, the company forecast only muted growth in 2018 and warned draft legislation in some U.S. states to make pricing more transparent could affect business in its largest market.
Peer Eli Lilly on Wednesday reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its earnings forecast for 2018 due to U.S. tax changes. ($1 = 5.9976 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Sunil Nair and Adrian Croft)