Swiss drug maker Novartis reports Q1 profit rose on divestitures

GENEVA - Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG has reported a 24 per cent increase in profit for the first quarter, helped by selling off less-profitable parts of its business.

The Basel, Switzerland-based company says its net profit rose to nearly $2.97 billion, up from $2.42 billion in the period last year, driven by strong sales, key drug approvals and other factors such as growth in emerging markets, particularly China.

In a statement Thursday, the company attributed its quarterly profit to "higher operating income driven by the exceptional divestment gain and higher income from associated companies."

On Tuesday, Novartis launched a major overhaul of its business through a series of multibillion-dollar deals with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Eli Lilly