GlaxoSmithKline sees better times ahead in 2014. The drug giant forecast Wednesday that revenue will rise by about 2 percent this year as it introduces new medicines.

Earnings per share excluding some items will increase by 4 percent to 8 percent at constant exchange rates, the London-based company said today in a statement.

GSK operates its North American headquarters in RTP.

Glaxo (NYSE: GSK) won approval for six new products last year for skin cancer, HIV, influenza and respiratory disease. Albiglutide for Type 2 diabetes was recommended for approval by the European Union’s drug regulator last month, and the company expects data from six late-stage clinical trials this year. Glaxo is introducing new products as competition for its Advair lung drug increases.

“The range in our guidance reflects the transition we expect to see in our portfolio during the year as we roll out new products but also face potential competition from generics to older products such as Lovaza,” a heart-disease treatment, Andrew Witty, Glaxo’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.

Profit excluding some items fell 8 percent to 2.09 billion pounds ($3.4 billion), or 30.1 pence a share, in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. Analysts predicted 30.8 pence, the average estimate from 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Revenue increased 2 percent to 6.91 billion pounds, compared with the average analyst estimate of 6.84 billion pounds.

(The full earnings report can be read online.)

Shares Rise

Glaxo shares rose as much as 3.5 percent, the biggest intraday gain since July 4. Glaxo was up 2.1 percent at 1,587 pence as of 12:33 p.m. in London, giving the company a market value of 77 billion pounds. Before today, the stock had gained 13 percent in the last year including reinvested dividends, compared with a 21 percent return in the Bloomberg Europe Pharmaceutical Index.

Pharmaceutical and vaccine sales in China were down 18 percent in the fourth quarter, led by declining sales of treatments for respiratory diseases and hepatitis, after a 61 percent plunge in the previous quarter as the company faces a bribery probe.

“It is not possible at this time to make a reliable estimate of the financial effect, if any, that could result from these matters,” the company said today.

China Business

Glaxo Chief Executive Officer Andrew Witty has said allegations by China’s government that company employees bribed hospitals, doctors and officials drove sales to some competitors with similar products. The company has conducted a review of its operations in other emerging markets and implemented additional anti-bribery controls and measures in higher-risk countries, Chief Financial Officer Simon Dingemans said in an interview last month.

This year, the company will be focused on rebuilding its business in China as well as on market introductions of its new products, Dingemans said.

Successful product introductions will help offset growing pressures on Advair for smokers’ cough and asthma. In the U.S., Express Scripts Holding Co., the country’s biggest pharmacy- benefits manager, excluded Advair from its list of medicines covered by insurance companies that went into effect last month, in favor of cheaper alternatives made by AstraZeneca Plc and Merck & Co.

Advair Competitors

Express Scripts’ exclusion of Advair may cut the drug’s sales by about 170 million pounds this year, Barclays Plc analysts said in a note to investors yesterday. Advair sales were 5.27 billion pounds last year, with about half of that revenue coming from the U.S.

Generic competition for Advair is also looming. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September proposed a simpler route for rivals seeking to copy the drug. The patent on the delivery device for the medicine expires in 2016. A generic version of Advair from Novartis AG and partner Vectura Plc has already been approved in Germany and Denmark.

Glaxo is also divesting older products with low growth prospects. The company last year sold the Lucozade and Ribena drink brands to Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. for 1.35 billion pounds as well as some injectable blood-clot treatments to Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. for 700 million pounds.

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