By Matthias Blamont
PARIS (Reuters) - French drugmaker Sanofi on Thursday pledged further increases in full-year profit helped by new drug launches and its reorganisation efforts.
It forecast an increase of 3-5 percent in 2019 earnings per share as it posted slightly higher-than-expected quarterly earnings, powered once again by its rare diseases Genzyme unit.
Its shares were little changed in early trading.
Sanofi, whose struggle to find new products has weighed on previous earnings as diabetes patents expired, is placing its hopes on the success of its new rare blood disorder franchise and a continued upswing for its eczema treatment Dupixent.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Wednesday it had approved Sanofi's drug to treat a life-threatening autoimmune disorder characterized by clot formation in small blood vessels.
The treatment was originally developed by Ablynx, a Belgium biotech firm that Sanofi acquired in January last year for 3.9 billion euros (£3.4 billion) just after snatching U.S. haemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion.
Sanofi is also trying hard to catch up a wave of new, immune system-boosting, cancer therapies and has appointed a former top scientist at oncology market leader Roche to head its research operations last summer.
In an other effort to spur growth, Sanofi said in September it would continue to implement cost savings after reaching a 1.5 billion euros cost reduction target a year ahead of forecasts.
Sanofi's fourth-quarter business net income was up 4.3 percent at constant exchange rates to 1.36 billion euros, while revenue rose 3.9 percent to 9 billion.
Analysts polled by Reuters in partnership with Infront Data had on average been expecting a business net income of 1.32 billion euros on sales of 8.9 billion.
Sales at Genzyme surged 37.4 percent. Revenue at the diabetes and cardiovascular unit, however, fell 11.3 percent.
At a conference in the U.S earlier this year, newly-appointed Chief Financial Officer Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon said the division would "still face headwinds" in 2019.
(Reporting by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Laurence Frost and Alexander Smith)