Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis (NVS -0.16%) announced its fourth-quarter 2019 financial results this morning. The company reported net sales of $12.4 billion, which was up 8% in comparison to the same time last year. However, net income came in at just $1.13 billion, a 7% decline from Q4 2018 which was attributed primarily to a one-time, deferred tax expense.

The results were a mixed bag, with net sales beating analysts' consensus target of $12.3 billion. However, Wall Street was expecting more from the company's breakthrough gene therapy treatment, Zolgensma, which targets patients with spinal muscular atrophy. The drug, which already is the most expensive treatment in the world with a $2 million price tag, brought in $186 million in sales for the quarter. While an increase from the $160 million reported in the third quarter of 2019, it's a bit shy of the $196 million expected by analysts.

A smiling pharmacist standing in a pharmacy.

Image source: Getty Images.

Other revenue drivers for the pharmaceutical giant include the immunosuppressant Cosentyx and the blood-pressure-lowering Entresto, which is used in patients at risk of chronic heart failure. The two drugs brought in $1.7 billion and $3.6 billion in revenue respectively over the course of the year. In comparison, total Zolgensma sales came in at just $361 million for 2019.

Novartis' 2020 guidance

The company said that it expects its 2020 sales to grow somewhere in the mid-to-high single-digit percentage, with Novartis' Innovative Medicines division (which includes Cosentyx, Entresto, and Zolgensma) being the company's main revenue driver.

Novartis also highlighted the fact that it received five potential blockbuster drug approvals this year. These include Zolgensma, the breast cancer drug Piqray, a multiple sclerosis drug called Mayzent, the age-related macular degeneration drug Beovu, and Adakveo, which targets patients with sickle cell disease complications.