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GSK sees lower profit this year, split plans on track

FILE PHOTO: Company logo of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is seen at their Stevenage facility, Britain October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs/File Photo

(Reuters) -Britain’s GSK forecast a dip in earnings this year as it grapples with COVID-19 disruptions and invests in its pipeline of new drugs, and said its plans to split into two businesses were on track.

The world’s biggest vaccine maker by sales said on Wednesday it expected adjusted earnings to fall by a mid- to high-single digit percentage at constant exchange rates.

Turnover for the fourth-quarter of 2020 fell 2% to 8.74 billion pounds ($11.9 billion) and adjusted earnings came in at 23.3 pence per share, both slightly higher than analysts’ average forecast.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted demand for GSK’s over-the-counter painkillers, it has disrupted other parts of its business as patients have made fewer trips to doctors.

Earlier on Wednesday, GSK said it was teaming up with German biotech firm CureVac to develop a COVID-19 vaccine to target several variants of the virus with one shot.

Rather than developing its own COVID-19 shot, GSK has so far focused on supplying its vaccine booster, or adjuvant, to other drugmakers. But it has had two big setbacks, as a project with Sanofi was delayed, while China’s Clover ended its deal with GSK on Monday.

Meanwhile, companies using new technologies that don’t require adjuvants, including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, are already rolling out COVID-19 vaccines.

GSK last year launched a two-year programme to split in two after the merger of its over-the-counter products business into a venture with Pfizer that created a market leader with brands from Sensodyne toothpaste to Panadol painkillers. That will be split from its drug making business.

($1 = 0.7335 pounds)

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Mark Potter

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