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Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis (NVS) - Get Novartis AG Report beat analysts' third-quarter earnings expectations Tuesday, with double-digit increases in sales and core operating income with growing margins.

Shares were up slightly to $86.84 in trading Tuesday.

The company reported net income of $2 billion, or $1.41 a share, up from $1.88 billion, or $1.22 a share, a year ago, beating Wall Street's forecast for $1.32 a share.

Sales totaled $12.2 billion, up 10% from a year ago, and ahead of analysts' expectations of $11.7 billion. The increase was driven mainly from sales of the psoriasis treatment Cosentyx, the cardiovascular drug Entresto, the gene therapy treatment Zolgensma for spinal muscular atrophy, and the acquisition of Xiidra, a dry eye medication.

Zolgensma sales totaled $160 million, well ahead of the consensus call for $102.6 million. In August, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration said that some data from the testing of Zolgensma had been manipulated, but maintained the drug should stay on the market.

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At roughly $2.1 million per patient, Zolgensma has been called the most expensive treatment on the market.

Core operating profit totaled $3.75 billion, up from $3.26 billion a year ago.

For 2019, the company said it expects sales to grow by a high single-digit percentage at constant currency, while core operating income is expected to grow to mid- to high-teens.

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