Net profits jumped 73 percent at Novartis last year to USD 17.7 billion thanks to asset sales, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant said Wednesday, but without the disposals its performance flagged. Excluding asset sales net profits at the world’s largest pharmaceutical company by sales fell by 5 percent to USD 12 billion, missing expectations of analysts polled by the Swiss financial news agency AWP of an average of USD 12.1 billion. Last year, the company finalised a series of transactions with GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lily and CSL to offload its vaccine, animal health and consumer health products businesses. Net sales also slid 5 percent to USD 49.4 billion but when currency changes were stripped out that represents a 5 percent gain, the company said. Currency swings had a -10 percent effect on sales and a -15 percent effect on core operating income last year, it added. “In 2015, we completed our portfolio transformation, delivered solid financial results and improved core margin despite a very strong currency impact,” chief executive Joseph Jimenez said in a statement. Core operating income margin climbed 1.3 percentage points in constant currency terms.