Procter & Gamble, the US behemoth which sells over 300 consumer, household and pharmaceutical goods, has posted a 9% increase in net income to $1.5 billion or $0.56 per share for its fiscal fourth quarter ended June 30, while sales just topped analyst estimates, coming in at $14.26 billion, up 10%.

Turnover at P&G’s healthcare division rose 16% to $1.9 billion, while the unit’s earnings shot up 42% to $182 million, driven by the firm’s over-the-counter version of AstraZeneca’s anti-ulcerant, Prilosec (omeprazole) and its osteoporosis drug Actonel (risedronate), sold in partnership with Sanofi-Aventis.

P&G chief executive AG Lafley was pleased that the company “delivered another year of strong top- and bottom-line results despite significant challenges from higher commodity costs, increased competitive spending and continued economic weakness in Western Europe and Japan.”

He added: “our balanced brand, customer and geographic presence” continue to drive growth, and went on to claim that the firm’s proposed $57 billion purchase of the shaving products giant Gillette [[31/01/05g]] “will provide further upside over the mid- and long-term.”

There were fears in some circles that the Gillette deal could cast a shadow over the future of P&G’s pharmaceuticals business, but the company has been fairly active in the drugs sector of late, having recently signed an agreement to co-promote Novartis’ overactive bladder treatment, Enablex (darifenacin), in the USA [[07/07/05a]].