GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the world's second largest drug maker by revenue, posted Wednesday an 11 percent rise in third quarter earnings on the back of strong sales of the flu drug Relenza and forecast an even bigger boost from its swine flu vaccines in the final quarter of the year.
London-based Glaxo reported net profit of 1.44 billion pounds ($2.35 billion) for the three months to Sept. 30, compared to 1.29 billion pounds a year ago.
Revenue rose 15 percent to 6.76 billion pounds.
Glaxo, which has been hit by rising competition from generic versions of its previously patented drugs, is expected to receive an earnings windfall from products dashed out in response to the H1N1 flu virus.
Chief Executive Officer Andrew Witty said that a market consensus forecast that Glaxo will make around 1 billion pounds in sales of H1N1 vaccines in the fourth quarter "is pretty accurate."
"In the fourth quarter, I expect further improvement including significant sales generated from our influenza products," Witty told reporters on a conference call immediately after the results were released.
Glaxo has reported orders for 440 million doses of its H1N1 vaccine Pandemrix and Witty said that more orders had been taken since that update, without providing details.
"We continue to have government express an interest and signing contracts with us and we anticipate that will continue for some time to come, although the lion's share is probably passed," he said.
Sales of Relenza reached 182 million pounds over the quarter.
However, overall earnings for the quarter just missed consensus forecasts of around 1.47 billion pounds, despite gains from emerging markets and the company's consumer healthcare division. Shares dropped 0.9 percent to 1,245 pence.
Witty said that the solid earns over the quarter reflected the company's success in moving away from reliance on the "white pill western market," to a more diversified business across geographical and product markets.
He noted that overall sales growth of 3 percent in the quarter marked the first sales growth for two years.
The consumer healthcare division posted sales up 8 percent, against estimated global market growth of just 1.5 percent. Sales in emerging markets jumped 25 percent.