Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I learn more about Novartis financial results?

Our Financial Data section provides links to:

Upcoming releases and more events are listed in our Event Calendar.

How do you calculate your earning per share?

Basic earnings per share (EPS) is calculated by dividing net income attributable to shareholders of Novartis AG by the weighted average number of shares outstanding in a reporting period. This calculation excludes the average number of issued shares purchased by the Group and held as treasury shares.

For diluted EPS, the weighted average number of shares outstanding is adjusted to assume the vesting of all restricted shares, restricted share units, and the conversion of all potentially dilutive shares arising from options on Novartis shares that have been issued.

No options were excluded from the calculation of diluted EPS in 2020, 2019 or 2018, as all options were dilutive in all years.

Per-share information

  2020 2019 2018
Net income attributable to shareholders of Novartis AG (USD millions)      
- Continuing operations 8 072 7 412 12 797
- Discontinued operations   4 590 -186
Total 8 072 11 732 12 611
Number of shares (in millions)
Weighted average number of shares outstanding used in basic earnings per share
2 277 2 291 2 319
Adjustment for vesting of restricted shares, restricted share units and dilutive shares from options 19 28 25
Weighted average number of shares in diluted earnings per share 2 296 2 319 2 344
Basic earnings per share (USD)      
- Continuing operations 3.55 3.12 5.52
- Discontinued operations   2.00 -0.08
Total 3.55 5.12 5.44
Diluted earnings per share (USD)      
- Continuing operations 3.52 3.08 5.46
- Discontinued operations   1.98 -0.08
Total 3.52 5.06 5.38

Are there any limitations on voting rights for registered shareholders?

The Company’s Articles of Incorporation state that no person or entity shall be registered with the right to vote for more than 2% of the share capital, as set forth in the commercial register. In particular cases, the Board of Directors may allow exemptions from the limitation for registration in the Novartis Share Register.

According to the Novartis Share Register, shareholders who owned 2% or more of the Company’s capital at December 31, 2020, and were entitled to voting rights on all of their shares, excluding treasury shares held by Novartis AG or its fully owned subsidiaries, were as follows:

  % holding of share capital
Dec 31, 2020
% holding of share capital
Dec 31, 2019
Emasan AG, Basel 3.6 3.5
UBS Fund Management (Switzerland) AG, Basel 2.3 2.1
Credit Suisse Funds AG, Zurich 2.0 <2.0
Novartis Foundation for Employee Participation, Basel <2.0 2.1

What is the exposure to exchange rate risk for Novartis?

We transact our business in many currencies other than the US dollar, our reporting currency. The following provides an overview of net sales and operating expenses for our continuing operations based on IFRS values for 2020 and 2019, for currencies most important to the Group: 

Currency   2020
US dollar (USD) Net sales 36 37
  Operating expenses 34 36
Euro (EUR) Net sales 29 28
  Operating expenses 27 26
Swiss franc (CHF) Net sales 2 2
  Operating expenses 18 16
Japanese yen (JPY) Net sales 6 6
  Operating expenses 3 3
Chinese yuan (CNY) Net sales 5 5
  Operating expenses 3 4
Canadian dollar (CAD) Net sales 3 3
  Operating expenses 1 2
British pound (GBP) Net sales 2 2
  Operating expenses 3 2
Brazilian real (BRL) Net sales 2 2
  Operating expenses 1 1
Russian ruble (RUB) Net sales 2 2
  Operating expenses 1 1
Australian dollar (AUD) Net sales 1 1
  Operating expenses 1 1
Other currencies Net sales 12 12
  Operating expenses 8 8

Operating expenses in the above table include cost of goods sold, selling, general and administration, research and development, other income and other expense.

We prepare our consolidated financial statements in US dollars. As a result, fluctuations in the exchange rates between the US dollar and other currencies can have a significant effect on both the Group’s results of operations as well as the reported value of our assets, liabilities and cash flows. This in turn may significantly affect reported earnings (both positively and negatively) and the comparability of period-to-period results of operations.

For purposes of our consolidated balance sheets, we translate assets and liabilities denominated in other currencies into US dollars at the prevailing market exchange rates as of the relevant balance sheet date. For purposes of the Group’s consolidated income and cash flow statements, revenue, expense and cash flow items in local currencies are translated into US dollars at average exchange rates prevailing during the relevant period. As a result, even if the amounts or values of these items remain unchanged in the respective local currency, changes in exchange rates have an impact on the amounts or values of these items in our consolidated financial statements.

Because our expenditure in Swiss francs is significantly higher than our revenue in Swiss francs, volatility in the value of the Swiss franc can have a significant impact on the reported value of our earnings, assets and liabilities, and the timing and extent of such volatility can be difficult to predict.

There is also a risk that certain countries could devalue their currency. If this occurs, it could impact the effective prices we would be able to charge for our products and also have an adverse impact on both our consolidated income statement and balance sheet.

Top 10 ESG-related questions from shareholders and our responses

Investor questions in Q2 on ESG have continued to evolve with increasing focus on social and environmental issues, reflecting what is most material to Novartis, changing societal expectations and leadership attributes in Healthcare.

Last updated: July 22, 2021

What is your approach to patents in low-income countries?

  • Novartis does not file or enforce patents in least developed countries (LDCs), low-income countries (LICs) or in over 80% of the lower-middle income countries (LMICs).
  • In the small number of remaining LMICs where we do file patents, we aim to restrict patent filings to those patent applications covering new molecules or new chemical entities. In addition, we are committed to granting non-exclusive licenses to qualified third parties for supply of our patented products exclusively to LDCs or LICs.
  • We are a founding member of the ‘Patent Information Initiative for Medicines’ where will list patent information for all our small-molecule medicines. We are a founding signatory of the IP Principles for Advancing Cures and Therapies (IP PACT), which launched in April 2021. The IP PACT is a public statement of our patient-centric approach to IP that explains some of the ways in which we use the IP system for the benefit of patients and society.
  • Novartis continues our pro bono efforts in the IP space through the Inventor Assistance program, a WIPO initiative. The program aims to match developing country inventors and small businesses with patent attorneys, who provide pro bono legal assistance.

Can you share your efforts on Biodiversity?

  • Biodiversity is seen as a critical issue for our business, supply chain and sector and was identified as a strategic risk by Novartis’ Board and Executive Committee in 2020. Biodiversity is included in our enterprise risk management program, with regular updates provided to the Board on efforts that can reduce our risk exposure, across mitigation and adaptation efforts.
  • We are focused on achieving our carbon, plastic and water neutrality targets by 2030. We are working to expand our portfolio of natural climate solutions through new and innovative projects to deliver health, biodiversity and climate resilience benefits.
  • We have multiple forestry projects globally, owned and operated by Novartis which provide significant benefits to wildlife, nature and indigenous populations. In future, we aim to use Science-based Targets for Nature guidance to further investigate our value chain impacts and dependencies.

Do you have a responsible tax policy?

  • Novartis believes profits should accrue where economic value is created and we continue to pay our fair share of taxes where we operate. We consider this part of our contribution to society.
  • Novartis is committed to a collaborative and transparent approach to tax compliance and tax planning, including in our relationships with tax authorities. We support G7 and G20 initiatives on ensuring tax rights in markets where value is generated, on minimum tax standards and on tax dispute resolution by engaging directly with multilateral organisations and jurisdictions where we operate.
  • The Novartis Tax Governance framework, which has been approved by the Finance and Governance committee chaired by the CEO, ensures that controls and in place to monitor and enforce adherence to the tax governance rules and procedures across Novartis.

What is your approach to pricing?

  • At Novartis, we are committed new launches is to develop pricing based on a value-based framework, in line with affordability factors in the markets where we operate. We believe that it is necessary to ensure that pricing and access strategies are sustainable for patients and healthcare systems.
  • Our approach is driven by our four value pillars: clinical value (improvement in mortality), patient value (improvement in quality of life), system value (reduction in hospitalization) and societal value (ability to lead productive lives).
  • We are committed to transparency on pricing, and publish annually in our Novartis in Society Report. Additionally, we limit price increases to medical inflation in relevant markets.

 Do you measure social impact?

  • Novartis began measuring and valuing Social, Environmental and Economic (SEE) impact in 2015.Our impact valuation metrics are based on material topics identified though the Novartis Materiality Assessment. These include components such as greenhouse gasses, living wages, employee development and the social impact of our medicines.
  • Our three objectives are a) to engage differently and deeply with a broad range of stakeholders, b) enhance our decision-making with additional impact-relevant quantitative insights and c) meaningfully increase the transparency of our non-financial disclosures to build trust with society.
  • While our impact valuation approach continues to evolve, Novartis’ SEE impact valuation has already resulted in valuable insights, and elevated ESG themes across core business functions. Our results are now available globally with specific data sets for 190 countries.
  • In 2019, our total social impact was estimated at USD 221 billion. A considerable part of this (USD 219 billion) was contributed by the social impact of our Innovative Medicines and Sandoz product portfolios across 132 countries. The remaining USD 2 billion came from human impact capital.

Can you share details on your anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies?

  • Novartis does not tolerate bribery and any forms of corruption. Our Anti-bribery policy can be found here. It explicitly states expectations for all our associates. We also set out our standards in the Novartis Code of Ethics. Specific principles governing professional practices are set out in our Professional Practices Policy and third party risk is governed by our Anti-Bribery Third Party Guidelines.
  • Our Ethics, Risk and Compliance program educates associates and monitors conformity with these standards and industry codes of practice. Additionally, our SpeakUp Office investigates all allegations of misconduct.
  • We are committed to measuring the effectiveness of our anti-corruption programs, particularly on culture, risk management, impact on compliance and third parties. We aim to report on several of these indicators by 2022.

What is your exposure to opioids?

  • There is growing concern about the potential for misuse or abuse of opioid medications, in particular addiction and overdosing. Novartis will continue to work closely with healthcare authorities to establish appropriate risk management plans and monitor all our medications in line with well-established pharmacovigilance norms.
  • Novartis does not have a material footprint in opioids, and we do not view this as a strategic segment for our business, having exited the US market in 2018.
  • Currently, sales of opioids are only in our Sandoz division, which makes up approximately a fifth of overall Novartis sales. Opioid sales represent approximately 2% in global sales of Sandoz, mostly in Fentanyl in Western Europe.

Are you transparent on payments to healthcare professionals?

  • Novartis discloses payments to healthcare professionals (HCPs) and organizations (HCOs) in all countries, where it is required by law. We disclose on payments in 42 countries globally and have a roadmap in place for implementing appropriate processes in countries with emerging transparency regulations.
  • Where applicable, Novartis complies with the Medicines for Europe Transparency Rules and Requirements, which defines disclosure rules for the generic, biosimilar and value added medicines industry and is an integral part of the Medicines for Europe’s Code of Conduct. Novartis captures and reports spend related to interactions with US licensed physicians and teaching hospitals within the scope of the US Physicians Payment Sunshine Act.

Do you disclose data on Diversity & Inclusion in the US?

  • At Novartis, we aspire to have an employee population that reflects the populations we serve in terms of the representation of women and people of color, particularly at the leadership level.
  • To help us realize this important goal, we have designed and implemented a number of initiatives that already are yielding results.In 2018, we became the first pharmaceuticals company to join the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) to achieve equal pay for women and pay globally. We remain on track to meet our EPIC pay equity and transparency commitments by 2023, both in the US and globally.
  • Novartis has taken the initiative to publicly disclose the consolidated US EEO demographics that we prepared for the US Equal Opportunity Commission. More detail can be found here.

What is the feedback on your new performance management system?

  • In 2021, we launched our new performance management system, Evolve as part of our culture transformation at Novartis. Our new system aims to empower our associates to be their best, take smart risks and execute on our strategic priorities.
  • We regularly track feedback with our associates, with our most recent Evolve sentiment survey taking place in June 2021. The success of our system has been reflected by the overall positive feedback score of 71% among our associates.
  • We continue to focus on areas that can optimize associate experiences better, such as usage of technology and internal systems.

What is the new cost basis of my Novartis and Alcon shares following the spin-off of Alcon from Novartis?

Information about allocation of tax basis for U.S. holders may be found in the Form 8937: Basis of Securities (PDF 0.1 MB). With regard to non-U.S. holders, please note that the allocation of tax basis for Novartis and Alcon shares following the spin-off depend on the applicable local tax provisions and each shareholder’s individual circumstances. Accordingly, all shareholders and ADR holders are asked to consult their own tax advisor regarding the tax basis allocation calculations.

What are the income tax implications to Canadian shareholders due to the Alcon spin-off?

The following documents include the Finance Canada and Canada Revenue Agency comfort letter, Canada income tax guidelines and tax election letters related to the Alcon Spin-off for Canadian resident shareholders:

Canada Income Tax Alcon Spin-off FAQ - English (PDF 0.1 MB)

Canada Income Tax Alcon Spin-off FAQ- French (PDF 0.1 MB)

Department of Finance Canada Comfort Letter (PDF 0.1 MB)

Download the Canada and Quebec Tax Election Example Letters (ZIP 0.1 MB)


Where are Novartis shares traded?

Novartis shares are listed and traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange (Valor No. 001200526, ISIN CH0012005267, symbol: NOVN) as well as on the NYSE in the form of American Depositary Receipts (ADR) (Valor No. 567514, ISIN US66987V1098, symbol: NVS).

What are the ticker symbols for Novartis?

Shares SIX (Reuters / Bloomberg) NOVN.S / NOVN SW
ADRs NYSE (Reuters / Bloomberg) NVS / NVS US

What is an ADR/ADS?

ADR stands for American Depositary Receipt. ADS stands for American Depositary Share. An ADR is a receipt for a number of shares of a foreign-based corporation held by a US depositary bank, entitling the ADR holder to all dividends and capital gains.

What is the number of outstanding shares in Novartis?

Key Novartis share data

Calculated on the weighted average number of shares outstanding

  2020 2019 2018
Issued shares 2 467 060 920 2 527 374 820 2 550 624 820
Treasury shares1 210 238 872 262 366 332 239 453 391
Outstanding shares at December 31 2 256 822 048 2 265 008 488 2 311 171 429
Weighted average number of shares outstanding 2 277 041 940 2 290 792 782 2 319 322 369

1. Approximately 103 million treasury shares (2019: 118 million; 2018: 122 million) are held in Novartis entities that restrict their availability for use.

What is the number of outstanding ADRs in Novartis?

Key data on ADRs issued in the US

  2020 2019 2018
Year-end ADR price (USD) 94.43 94.69 85.81
Number of ADRs outstanding1 288 755 853 315 073 094 338 641 387

1. The depositary, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., holds one Novartis AG share for every ADR issued.

When is your dividend going to be paid?

The dividend payment date has been set for March 08, 2021.

What is the dividend history for Novartis shares?

Shareholders approved the 24th consecutive dividend increase to CHF 3.00 (+1.7%) per share for 2020 at the Annual General Meeting on March 02, 2021.

Learn more about dividend information

What is the amount and timing of the next dividend payment?

The Annual General Meeting of shareholders held on March 2, 2021 approved a gross dividend (before taxes and duties) of CHF 3.00 per dividend-bearing share of CHF 0.50 nominal value.

The last trading day with entitlement to receive the dividend is March 3, 2021.

As from March 4, 2021 the shares will be traded ex-dividend. This dividend will be paid as of March 8, 2021 (the Swiss payment date).

Is the dividend on the Novartis ordinary share and the Novartis ADR the same?

Yes, however, since ADR holders will receive their dividend in US dollars, the amount received will be impacted by currency exchange rates, as well as by a handling fee (historically, $0.01 per share) associated with the ADR dividend. An estimate of the amount of the US dollar dividend for the ADR will be calculated on the day of the dividend announcement based on that day’s exchange rates. The actual exchange rate will be determined once all funds are received and exchanged by J.P. Morgan, the depositary bank.

Since 2019, Novartis’s dividend to ADR holders will be paid in two stages. The first payment will be equal to 65% of the payout, payable one week after Swiss payment date. Those holders reclaiming withholding tax will receive a second payment once the reclaim process is completed.

Will the rate recently announced for the ADRs change between now and the ADR payment date?

Yes, the preliminary announcement only provides an estimated rate based on a current FX rate. The actual rate will be determined when the Swiss Francs are converted to US dollars on the Swiss payment date once all the funds are received by J.P. Morgan, the Depositary.

Will the entire dividend amount be converted into US dollars on the Swiss payment date of March 8, 2021?

On the Swiss payment date only 65% of the dividend is received. This amount will be converted into US dollars and paid on the ADR payment date of March 15, 2021.

When will the remainder of the funds be converted and paid to the ADR holders?

The remainder of the funds due to ADR holders will be converted only after a tax reclaim has been completed and once any such reclaimed funds have been received by J.P. Morgan from the Swiss Tax Authorities. Once the funds are received and converted into US dollars a payment will be made shortly thereafter to any ADR holders entitled thereto. From previous years, we can expect tax reclaim funds to be distributed to ADR holders six to seven weeks after the Swiss payment date.

Why can’t J.P. Morgan receive all of the funds on the Swiss payment date?

The Swiss Tax Authorities require that a tax reclaim be completed prior to each payment for any amounts due above and beyond the non-treaty amount. Investors must certify and elect their entitlement and provide necessary disclosure documentation as required by the treaty between the US and Switzerland based upon their tax status.

Why does it take so long to get the reclaim funds back from the Swiss Tax Authorities?

Holders of ADRs entitled to receive the dividend are not able to elect until after the ADR record date which is just one (1) day prior to the Swiss payment date. Eligible holders of ADRs are given 10 days to complete and submit their election. Once any reclaims are submitted to the Swiss Tax Authorities it takes approximately 15 days for such authorities to process the reclaim.

Will another announcement be made once the tax reclaim funds are received?

No, the funds will be converted and paid to the holders.

How does the tax reclaim process work?

There is a process for banks and brokers within Depositary Trust Company to elect their clients’ correct tax status electronically and to provide documentation on behalf of their clients. J.P. Morgan elects on behalf of registered holders based upon their tax status. Please contact J.P. Morgan / Goal Group Recoveries, Inc., New York at 1‐212‐248‐9130 for further questions.