Novartis AG ADR NVS
Q1 2013 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 04/24/2013

Operator: Good morning and good afternoon. Welcome to the Novartis Q1 2013 Results Conference Call and Audio Webcast. Please note that during the presentation all participants will be in listen-only mode and the conference is being recorded.

After the presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. A recording of the conference call including the Q&A session are available on our website shortly after the call ends.

With that, I would like to handover to Mr. Joe Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. Please go ahead, sir.

Joseph Jimenez - CEO: Thank you. I'd like to welcome everybody to our first quarter conference call. Joining me on the Novartis end are Jon Symonds, CFO; David Epstein, Head of Pharma Division; Kevin Buehler, Head of the Alcon business; Jeff George, Head of Sandoz unit; Andrin Oswald, Head of Vaccines and Diagnostics; George Gunn, Head of Animal Health; and Brian McNamara, Head of OTC.

Before we start, I'd like to ask Samir Shah to read the Safe Harbor statement.

Samir Shah - Global Head Investor Relations: The information presented in this conference call contains forward-looking statements that involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. These may cause actual results to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Please refer to the Company's Form 20-F on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a description of some of these factors.

Joseph Jimenez - CEO: Thanks Samir. Starting on Slide 4, before we start, I want to comment on the announcement that we made today about Jon Symonds. As you saw from our press release after 17 years as CFO of which, four of those years were at Novartis, Jon's decided to step back.

I want to say that I’m personally going to miss working with him. He's done a great job at Novartis. He brought a strong productivity agenda to the Company. He improved our internal processes significantly and beyond that he's just a good guy to work with.

So, I’ve relied on him heavily, I'm now in my fourth year as CEO and Jon's been there every step of the way. He's agreed to stay on through the end of the year to be an advisor to me and also to help with the transition for Harry Kirsch. Many of you know Harry. He is the CFO of the Pharma division. He's been in the division for over 10 years. So he's got a very deep knowledge of the business and one of the reasons why Harry got this job is his focus on productivity and also his execution skills. Jon's brought a focus on productivity that we are absolutely going to continue and Harry will continue in that tradition. He's been able to generate margin improvement in the Pharma division even at a time when they faced generic competition. So he will be able to bring that to the entire Group.

Let's talk about the business. We delivered a solid quarter. In the first quarter, our sales were up 4% and our core operating income was up 6% in constant currency, but I think more importantly, we had good innovation in the quarter. We had eight key approvals and innovations which I'll talk about in a minute.

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