GlaxoSmithKline has said the chance of it spinning off or selling its consumer health business before 2018 was ''extraordinarily low''. As Hayley Platt reports it follows fourth quarter earnings that narrowly beat expectations.
It's been a difficult period for Britain's biggest drugmaker - falling sales of its respiratory drug Advair one of the problems. But there were some good signs in GlaxoSmithKline's fourth quarter results. Growing demand for new drugs helped push earnings slightly above expectations. Sales, in sterling terms, rose 2 percent to almost 6.3 billion pounds. IG's Alastair McCaig. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IG, MARKET ANALYST, ALASTAIR MCCAIG, SAYING: "I think they'll be a little more of a disappointment about the share price performance, they themselves are going to hit some currency headwinds and it's anticipated that 3 percent of their annual revenue is going to be dented on the back of their currency exposure." There are concerns too about the size of the business. Some think GSK should spin-off its non-prescription consumer healthcare unit - which it runs with Novartis. CEO Andrew Witty hasn't ruled out a break-up longer term. But he wants to boost margins in the consumer division first. He'll also need to keep core pharmaceuticals strong - and there are positive signs. GSK predicts 11 key new products will make sales of 6 billion pounds by 2018, two years earlier than initially expected.