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Why GlaxoSmithKline Plc Has Gained 23% Since This Time Last Year

GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) (NYSE: GSK.US) has advanced 23% to1,654p during the last 12 months, making the share one of the best performers in the FTSE 100 index.

The global pharmaceutical giant, which employs more than 99,000 people in over 100 countries, seems to have impressed investors with a series of resilient statements — despite the accusations of bribery within its Chinese operation emerging in early July.

Back in February, GlaxoSmithKline announced its 2012 results, which showed a 3% dip in core operating profits to £8,330m.

GSK highlighted that group sales were down by 1% and said that sales at its European operation had slipped 7% — owing to the ongoing economic uncertainty in the eurozone following the financial crisis.

The blue chip also reported that £6.3bn was returned to shareholders over the year — through £2.5bn of share buybacks and by hiking its total dividend 6% to 74p per share.

During April, GlaxoSmithKline issued a first-quarter statement that revealed “sales and earnings in line with our expectations” and “significant pipeline progress”. Group sales were down by 2% for the quarter, as expected, while core earnings per share dropped 6% to 26.9p. The Q1 dividend was increased by 6% to 18p per share.

In addition, the Q1 update disclosed that 2013 expectations for sales growth would be around 1%, and that the restructuring of the group’s European operations was “progressing well”.

Then at the end of July, GlaxoSmithKline disclosed half-year results that showed EPS increasing 4% and a 2% increase in sales.  It also announced that it had received US approval for three new treatments currently in late stage pipeline development. As in Q1, the Q2 dividend was increased by 6% to 18p per share.

Sir Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, said at the time:

“In the quarter, Group sales grew 2% with growth broadly based across Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines, up 1%, and a continued strong contribution from Consumer Healthcare, up 2% (5% excluding divestments).” 

“European Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines sales were flat, reflecting the annualisation of some government price cuts, but also the early results of our strategy to restructure our European operations …  we remain cautious about the outlook in Europe and expect austerity pressures to continue.”

Going forward, we continue to expect sales to grow broadly across Emerging Markets, we are likely to see some impact to our performance in China as a result of the current investigation, but it is too early to quantify the extent of this.”

The next update from GlaxoSmithKline will be published on 23 October, which may reveal further news that can encourage investors, and how the accusations of bribery within its Chinese operation might play out.

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> Andrew owns shares in GlaxoSmithKline. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in GlaxoSmithKline.