GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has released its fourth-quarter 2018 results, reporting prescription drug sales of £4.8 billion - a 6% increase on the prior year period - and total profit of £1.4 billion, marking an increase of £442 million.

Respiratory product sales also amounted to £2 billion, a 5% increase on the prior year period, and HIV product sales hit £1.3 billion, up 10%.

Sales of Shingrix, the company’s shingles vaccine, more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2018 to £221 million, but sales of its asthma treatment Advair, which has fuelled much of the company’s respiratory drugs franchise, fell 20%.

For the full year, pharmaceuticals sales came in at £17.3 billion, up 2% at constant exchange rates (CER), while those for vaccines hit £5.9 billion (+16% CER) and those for consumer health care climbed 2% (CER) to £7.7 billion.

According to chief executive Emma Walmsley: “On a total basis, earnings per share more than doubled to 73.7p and adjusted earnings per share were up 12% CER”, and she also noted that “we have seen good progress in 2018 in operational performance, in reshaping the portfolio, and in strengthening the pipeline, and we'll be building on this progress in 2019. In innovation, we will be focused on strengthening the pipeline further, particularly our growing portfolio of assets in oncology.”

The earnings report comes the day after GlaxoSmithKline announced an agreement potentially worth up to 3.7 billion euros ($4.2 billion) to jointly develop Merck KGaA's experimental immunotherapy M7824 (bintrafusp alfa) in a number of cancer types, and also follows the firm's $5.1 billion Tesaro acquisition which was completed last month.

Looking forward, the firm said it expects adjusted EPS to decline -5% to -9% CER reflecting recent approval of a generic competitor to Advair in the US, the impact of the Tesaro acquisition, disposal of Consumer Healthcare nutrition, and the Consumer JV with Pfizer.