• Novartis
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology

    Flat fourth-quarter sales and a $120 million operating loss at Alcon has put the division's future under review.

    "We are going to look at what's in the best interest of our shareholders, in terms of the future of that business, ranging all the way from retaining the business to a capital markets exit through an IPO or a spin," CEO Joe Jimenez explained. "We've not ruled anything out, all options are on the table."

    Lower sales for cataract and refractive equipment coupled with competitive pressure in the IOL market kept surgical sales down. Vision care sales were up 5%, fueled by strong sales in the daily contact lens portfolio. Net sales at Novartis were down 2% for the quarter and the full year.

    Jimenez said he expects Novartis to resume growth in 2018, as it comes out from under its top-selling blood cancer drug Gleevec's patent expiration and as newer drugs including psoriasis medication Cosentyx take off.

    "Unfortunately, 2017 is going to look a lot like 2016," Jimenez said. "We expect the next growth phase of this company to begin toward the end of this year," he said, adding that the company anticipates annual growth beginning in 2018.