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Swiss drug maker Novartis AG says its first-quarter net profit has receeded 4 percent to $2.82 billion despite a 16 percent hike in sales.

The company says year-earlier results were influenced by earnings from the swine flu vaccine and most analysts had expected even lower first-quarter net profits for 2011.

Sales rose to $14.03 billion from $12.13 billion in the Jan.-March period last year.

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