22 April 1999
Agribusiness decline hits Novartis

SHARES in Novartis have taken a dive after the Swiss life sciences group said a poor performance from its agribusiness arm caused a 1% fall in first-quarter turnover.

The group blamed fierce competition and poor demand in US and European farming for a 10% drop in sales to SF2.4 billion (£990m).

It expected no improvement on the agribusiness side – roughly a third of its business – for at least a year.

Novartis core pharmaceuticals business showed a 4% advance to SF4.3bn, but this was described by one analyst as “pedestrian”.