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Novo Nordisk shares fall on Wegovy news despite outlook lift

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk is pictured on the facade of a production plant in Chartres
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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Shares in Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk fell on Wednesday as news about its new obesity drug disappointed investors, even though the firm lifted its sales and operating profit forecasts for the year on strong first half results.

Novo Nordisk, whose main business is to develop diabetes and obesity drugs, now expects sales growth of 12-16% at constant exchange rates, up from a previous estimate of 10-14%. It sees operating profit up 11-15%, versus an earlier estimate of 9-13%.

Shares in Novo ended down 9.4% at the market close.

"It could be lower than expected sales of Wegovy, which disappointed," Sydbank analyst Soren Lontoft Hansen told Reuters, referring to Novo's new obesity drug, which has faced supply issues since its launch in the United States last year.

Sales of Wegovy declined to 1.2 billion Danish crowns ($163.27 million) in the second quarter from 1.4 billion in the first quarter. Overall, sales of obesity drugs grew 83% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year.

The company also said it expected to make all dose strengths of Wegovy available in the United States "towards the end of 2022".

"That is perhaps a tightening of the rhetoric compared to Q1, where they said 'in the second half of the year'," Hansen said.

That was likely due to "lower output as scale-up is slightly slower than planned," Jefferies analysts said in a note.

Investors had also hoped for more positive news from Novo's SELECT trial, which investigates cardiovascular benefits from its Wegovy drug, Hansen said. Novo said on Wednesday the trial would continue "in accordance with the trial protocol".

"There was talk that the study could be stopped earlier if a really large reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events was shown," said Hansen, who viewed the overall quarterly results from Novo as "really strong".

Novo reported second-quarter operating profit of 18.4 billion Danish crowns, just above the 18.3 billion forecast by analysts, according to Refinitiv data. The company had initially planned to announce results on Thursday.

"We are very pleased with the sales growth in the first half of 2022. The growth is driven by increasing demand for GLP-1 based diabetes treatments, especially Ozempic," Chief Executive Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen said in a statement.

An investor conference call will be held at 1730 GMT on Wednesday.

($1 = 7.3474 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Nikolaj SkydsgaardEditing by David Goodman, Mark Potter and David Evans)

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