Like some sort of Swiss Godzilla, Novartis
Sometimes rampant acquisition plans are a reflection of internal weakness, but I'm not sure that's entirely fair in this case. For the fourth quarter, Novartis reported that sales rose 14% (18% in local currencies) to almost $8.7 billion. Pharmaceutical growth was a modest 6% in dollars, as was OTC growth of 5%, but reported growth in the Sandoz generics business was 81% (though organic growth was more on the order of 2%).
Novartis provided a breakout of total dollar-based revenue growth that I found interesting and helpful. Volume was up 9%, acquisitions added 10%, currencies subtracted 4%, and pricing was down 1%. That all adds up to 14% growth, though it's pretty clear that performance was much more modest on an organic "same-store" basis.
Unlike some large pharmaceutical companies (like, say Pfizer
It's also true that Novartis may not be done with its shopping. Swiss drug company Serono
All in all, it's easy to like where Novartis sits today. The current pharmaceutical business is OK, and the newly expanded generics business could be a solid cash producer. Throw in a solid pipeline and a reasonable valuation, and the stock could still be worth a look for new money in the pharmaceutical space.
For more pharmaceutical Foolishness:
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).