UPDATE 2-Alcon profit rises as Novartis takeover looms

Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:03pm EST

* Q4 EPS $1.61 excluding items vs Street view $1.51

* Revenue up 14.5 percent to $1.72 billion (Adds sales details, outlook)

NEW YORK Feb 11 (Reuters) - Eye care products maker Alcon Inc ACL.N, which is being acquired by Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG (NOVN.VX), reported an 8 percent rise infourth-quarter profit on Thursday, helped by double-digit sales increases in the U.S. and emerging markets.

Alcon posted a net profit of $458 million, or $1.51 per share, compared with $424 million, or $1.41 per share, a year ago.

Excluding items, such as a $30 million tax expense, Alcon earned $1.61 per share. Analysts on average expected $1.51 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue for the quarter rose 14.5 percent to $1.72 billion, exceeding Wall Street estimates of $1.6 billion.

U.S. sales rose 10 percent as prescription demand strengthened and cataract procedure volumes improved, Alcon said. International organic sales, driven by emerging markets, grew more than 7 percent.

Alcon said quarterly worldwide sales of glaucoma products rose 31 percent, while sales of advanced technology intraocular lenses rose more than 42 percent.

For 2010, Alcon said it expects organic sales growth to return to the mid-to-high single digits with full year earnings of $7.30 to $7.55 per share.

Analysts have forecast 2010 earnings per share of $7.43 on revenue of $6.89 billion.

The planned Novartis acquisition has been highly contentious as the drugmaker has offered minority shareholders substantially less to tender their Alcon shares that it will pay Swiss conglomerate Nestle SA (NESN.VX) for its majority stake in Alcon. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot in New York, Deena Beasley in Los Angeles, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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