British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on Wednesday posted soaring profits for the first quarter, lifted by sales of H1N1 treatments during last year's swine flu crisis.
GSK said in a results statement that net profits leapt 18.5 per cent to £ 1.34 billion (€ 1.54 billion, $ 2.03 billion) in the three months to the end of March, compared with the same part of 2009.
Turnover jumped 13 per cent to £ 7.357 billion in the reporting period, driven by swine flu vaccine sales of £ 698 million.
However, Glaxo said it forecast just £ 200 million worth of swine flu sales this year as governments scaled back their plans as the pandemic threat has receded.
"Group turnover grew 13 per cent aided by sales of pandemic influenza products," said GSK Chief Executive Andrew Witty, who cited the group's pandemic vaccine and Relenza treatment.
He added that the group hoped to deliver on major cost savings in the coming years as it seeks to ramp up profitability.
"We also continue to re-shape the company through simplification and cost containment initiatives, which are on track to deliver annual cumulative cost savings of £ 2.2 billion by 2012, of which £ 1.5 billion is expected to be achieved by the end of this year," Witty said.
"GSK has made a good start to 2010 and this provides further confirmation that our strategy is working," he added.
In afternoon London trade, GSK shares rallied 1.28 per cent to 1,229.50 pence on the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 leading shares index, which was down 0.05 per cent.