The Octapharma Group has delivered a strong performance in 2019. Sales of €2.2 billion represent a significant achievement – and an increase of €417 million (23.2%) compared with 2018. Furthermore, our operating income has grown by 22.7% compared with 2018 to a record of €424 million.
Last year our products touched hundreds of thousands of patients globally. We have recorded a very strong year-on-year growth of our immunoglobulin product portfolio, as well as for Albumin, Nuwiq® and fibryga®. Our continued strong sales growth would not be possible without effective collaboration across all divisions and regions, and the focus and commitment of all our employees and stakeholders.
Gross profit in 2019 was €783 million, which is €152 million more than achieved in 2018. Despite continued investments in production capacity to fulfil the growing global need for plasma-derived products, our gross margin increased by 0.3 percentage points to 35.4%.
Operating income was €424 million and profit before taxes €428 million. In the context of the corporate tax reform in Switzerland a deferred tax asset was created, which significantly reduced the Group’s effective tax rate but did not impact actual income tax paid for 2019. Net profit for the year 2019 can be reported at a record of €403 million.
Net cash from operating activities was €257 million. The strong sales growth comes along with investment into working capital: trade receivables increased by €233 million after strong sales in the last months of 2019 and our net inventory increased by €96 million.
Our total operating expenses were €359 million. Significant investments were made both for our future prosperity in R&D and into the extension of our production capacity and infrastructure. Important milestones in the expansion and utilisation of our plasma and recombinant product portfolio became a reality in the last 12 months. To ensure each litre of plasma is optimally used, the company will continue to enter new markets and expand its portfolio with innovative new products and services.
Our investments in talent, equipment and property prepare the company for the demands of the future.
In 2020, our target is to continue turning these successfully implemented capacity extension projects into sales and operating profit growth of more than 10% while focusing on working capital management. This will allow us to continue investing independently in the future prosperity of Octapharma.
Our significant investments in research and infrastructure strongly position the company to fulfil the future needs of even more healthcare professionals and patients around the world.
Chief Financial Officer