COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Novo Nordisk <NOVOb.CO>, the world's top maker of diabetes drugs, reported third-quarter operating profit slightly below forecasts on Thursday and announced more job cuts as it faces pricing pressure in the key U.S. market.
The company had already announced a restructuring and hundreds of job cuts but said on Thursday that it was reducing its workforce by 1,300 in total by the end of 2018 and that most of those reductions had been made already.gi
Sales of Novo's best-seller Victoza, a so-called GLP-1 drug that imitates an intestinal hormone to stimulate the production of insulin, in the third quarter came in at 6.1 billion crowns, above the 5.9 billion expected by analysts.
The GLP-1 franchise, to which Victoza belongs, is Novo's key growth driver as its insulin drugs are facing price pressure and biosimilar competition.
The firm narrowed its 2018 sales growth forecast to 4-5 percent from previously 3-5 percent and kept its operating profit growth outlook at 2-5 percent, both measured in local currencies.
Novo said it had expanded its share buyback programme by 1 billion crowns to 15 billion crowns and free cash flow this year is now seen at 29 billion-33 billion crowns from a previous guidance of 27 billion-32 billion crowns.
The company said quarterly operating profit totalled 11.81 billion crowns, below an average forecast of 11.93 billion crowns in a Reuters poll of analysts.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Susan Fenton)