I hope Novartis (NYSE:NVS) Chairman and CEO Daniel Vasella doesn't feel too bad about giving up his CEO spot and seeing shares move up nearly 2% yesterday. I'm pretty sure it had more to do with the 47% increase in fourth-quarter earnings than a statement about the job Vasella has done over the past 14 years.

In fact, I'd say Vasella has done a pretty good job diversifying Novartis. In addition to pharmaceutical drugs, the company now rivals Teva Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:TEVA) in generic drugs, has a substantial consumer health division, and has a nice vaccines division that contributed much of the quarterly increase, thanks to swine flu. Grabbing a controlling interest in eye-care specialist Alcon (NYSE:ACL) and throwing minority investors under the bus was just icing on the cake.

Integrating Alcon will be left to Joe Jimenez, who currently heads Novartis' pharmaceuticals division, although Vasella will stay on as chairman and work on "strategic priorities." First, I imagine, he's going on a long vacation.

Back to the previous quarter's results, revenue was up 28% year over year, mostly because of sales of swine flu vaccine. The rest of the segments weren't slouches, though. Novartis' generics business contributed nicely thanks to an acquisition, and the consumer health segment was up 13% with the launch of 24-hour Prevacid. The latter should make sanofi-aventis (NYSE:SNY) feel good about its purchase of Chattem (NASDAQ:CHTT) to help launch its over-the-counter version of allergy medication Allegra. There's big business in OTC drugs.

Novartis isn't cheap and trades at a premium to many of its diversified brethren like Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK). But when it can turn in double-digit growth across all its business segments, it deserves that kind of premium no matter who is at the helm.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of GlaxoSmithKline and has a disclosure policy.