Novartis sees bright future for eye unit

ZURICH: Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis said Tuesday a strategic review of its eye care unit showed that Alcon can deliver strong growth, but that a possible spin-off or listing is at least two years away.

While a decision on Alcon´s fate had been expected by the end of this year, the firm said it wanted further quarters of sales growth and better profit margins before taking a decision, meaning that no action was likely before the first half of 2019.

Novartis also released Tuesday quarterly results which showed a 7 percent increase in net profit to $2.08 billion on a 2 percent increase in sales to $12.4 billion.

But over the first nine months of the year net profit was down 1 percent to $5.7 billion.

Novartis confirmed its annual outlook of sales similar to the $48.5 billion registered last year and operating profits near or slightly below the $12.9 billion recording in 2016.