Adds quote, sales numbers
COPENHAGEN, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Denmark's Novo Nordisk NOVOb.CO posted a better-than-expected quarterly operating profit on Thursday and slightly lifted its full-year earnings outlook despite seeing sales stagnating due to fewer people taking up new treatments during the pandemic.
"Despite COVID-19, we are satisfied by the performance in the first half of 2020 and by the progress made on our strategic aspirations," Chief Executive Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen said in a statement.
The world's top maker of diabetes drugs posted a second-quarter operating profit of 13.8 billion Danish crowns ($2.20 billion), compared to an average 13.31 billion expected by analysts in a Refinitiv poll. L8N2F61E2
But quarterly sales at 30 billion crowns stagnated compared to the same period last year, coming in below analyst estimates of 30.7 billion crowns.
Novo said sales took a hit from fewer patients initiating treatments as well as COVID-19 related destocking, following a first quarter where sales were boosted by stockpiling, as the pandemic led to a surge in demand for medicine.
The company now expects annual operating profit growth in the range of 2%-5%, up from an earlier estimate of 1%-5% growth. But in Danish crowns, that number would be around 3 percentage points lower due to the current exchange rates, Novo said.
($1 = 6.2705 Danish crowns)
(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Edmund Blair)
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