GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) says higher sales of vaccines and consumer healthcare products pushed up its earnings from core business by 19 percent in the first quarter.

CEO Andrew Witty sees the results as an “encouraging start” for the year.

Core operating profit, which excludes taxes, one-time items and restructuring costs, rose to 1.56 billion pounds ($2.28 billion) from 1.31 billion pounds in the same quarter a year earlier.

Sales of vaccines rose 23 percent to 882 million pounds and sales of consumer healthcare products increased 26 percent to 1.76 billion pounds. Pharmaceutical sales fell 1 percent to 3.59 billion pounds, hurt by competition for the Advair asthma treatment.

What CEO Andrew Witty had to say:

“This strong first quarter performance demonstrates the momentum we have across the Group driven by growth in sales of our new products, effective cost control and execution of our restructuring and integration plans. We also continue to see good progression of novel assets in our core R&D therapy areas. Sales of new products were £821 million, more than double the same period last year. New Pharmaceutical product sales now represent 20% of total Pharmaceutical sales, which grew 5% on a pro-forma basis. Within our Respiratory portfolio, the growth in sales of new products offset about 70% of the decline in Seretide/Advair.

“Elsewhere, Vaccines sales grew 14% pro-forma with some benefit this quarter arising from an accelerated phasing of sales to governments. In Consumer Healthcare, sales were £1.8 billion up 4% with a further strong performance by Flonase OTC. The improvement in our sales performance, together with the effective management of our cost base, also helped deliver better operating leverage and an improvement in the margins of all three businesses. This puts us on the right track to achieve the expectations we set out last year, although inevitably, we expect some quarter-to-quarter volatility in reported progress, particularly in our margins, given the dynamics of our businesses. Core EPS for the quarter was 19.8 pence, up 8% CER.

“This is an encouraging start to the year and we now expect full year core EPS percentage growth to be 10-12% CER. The Group has declared a dividend of 19 pence for the quarter. We continue to expect to pay a full year dividend of 80 pence for 2016 and for 2017. Overall, the quarter reflects the progress we have made in our strategy and our ability to allocate capital across our three businesses to generate the best returns. Together with the roll out of our new commercial model, we believe the Group is well placed to maximise the opportunities, and respond to the competitive pressures and challenging pricing dynamics, that we see in the global healthcare environment.”

Like many big pharmaceutical companies, GSK is struggling to develop new blockbuster drugs as older treatments lose patent protection.

Witty says the results demonstrate the momentum across the group “driven by growth in sales of our new products, effective cost control and execution of our restructuring and integration plans.”

Net income, which includes all income and expenses, fell 97 percent to 282 million pounds after the company reported a 9.3 billion pound gain on the sale of its oncology unit and other assets in the first quarter of 2015.

Read the earnings report details at: