PARIS, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Sanofi SASY.PA expressed confidence for the fourth quarter and confirmed its full-year objectives on Thursday after posting lower third-quarter sales, hit by a fall in revenue at its primary care business and a drop in vaccines.
Sales at the French drugmaker's vaccines unit were down 9.8% at constant exchange rates as a result of a decision by the World Health Organisation this year to delay its choice of recommended compositions of influenza virus vaccines.
Chief Financial Officer Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon told reporters the company expected more invoices to translate into sales in the fourth quarter.
"We started manufacturing flu products late in the season. It is really about balance between the third and the fourth quarter," he said.
Over the first nine months of the year, vaccines sales rose 3.9% to 3.8 billion euros ($4.24 billion).
Quarterly sales of Sanofi's primary care unit, which includes diabetes and cardiovascular medications, were down 17.5% to 2.2 billion euros, reflecting falling prices for diabetes products in the United States, the world's largest health market.
The company, however, helped by another strong performance of its rare diseases Genzyme unit, confirmed it was targeting a 5% increase in earnings per share this year.
Its third-quarter net income edged up 0.2% to 2.4 billion euros, above expectations. Overall sales were down 1.1% to 9.5 billion.
($1 = 0.8958 euros)
(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; editing by Jason Neely)
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