Swiss drugmaker Novartis ( NVS ) said second-quarter profit rose 19%, thanks to sales gains of its high blood pressure treatments. Net income rose to $1.55 billion, or 63 cents a share, versus $1.32 billion, or 53 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 14% to $6.97 billion from $6.2 billion. Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.37 billion, or 59 cents a share, on revenue of $6.92 billion. The drugs, Diovan and Lotrel, both posted double-digit sales gains. "Our strategy has delivered strong organic sales growth and productivity gains," the company said. "We have gained market share, marking ten consecutive quarters of growth above the market average with margin improvements ahead of plan." During the quarter, Basel-based Novartis came close to making a bid for the German-French drugmaker Aventis ( AVE ), which was resisting a takeover from France's Sanofi-Synthelabo ( SFY). The eventual merger agreement between the two European rivals created the world's third largest drug firm. Novartis shares jumped $1.85 a share, or 4.3%, to $45.15 in heavy trading. Volume was about twice the daily average of about 804,000 shares.