GlaxoSmithKline beat earnings growth expectations in the third quarter by cutting back office and drug research and development costs were amplified by a lower tax rate.
With turnover up 1% to £6.51bn during the three months to September 30th, the FTSE 100 drug developer lifted core operating profits 11% to £2.06bn at constant exchange rates
(CER) and earnings per share (EPS)16% to 28.9p at CER.
Broker Jefferies pointed out that the core EPS of 28.9p beat consensus of 27.0p by 7%, after revenues were 2% below expectations.
In Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines a worse than expected sales decline of 61% in China, as the company is investigated by authorities over alleged bribery, led to a 9% fall across its Emerging Markets Asia Pacific (EMAP) segment, which dragged on good growth in Europe, US and Japan.
Overall, Pharmaceuticals were down 1% to £4.2bn and vaccines up 3% to £0.99bn. The consumer healthcare division rose 4% to £1.3bn thanks to good growth in oral care and nutrition.
Chief Executive Officer Andrew Witty said the stronger increase in core profit, which excludes exceptional and acquisition related figures, was driven by continued strong cost control, including a reduction in R&D expenditure and a continuing effort to reduce certain operating expenses, and a lower-than-expected core tax rate of 23.5%.
The top line also benefited as GSK sold off its Lucozade and Ribena to Japanese drinks maker Suntory for £1.35bn during the quarter.
Witty said Chinese operations continued to be disrupted by the investigation and that it was "still too early for us to quantify the longer-term impact of the investigation on our performance in China". Excluding the decline in China sales, he noted the EMAP pharma business grew 5%.
Despite wholesaler and retailer de-stocking in the quarter, as well as ongoing and intensifying price competition, Witty is optimistic about growth from the US Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines business thanks to GSK's strong flow of new products and commercial changes.
The group reaffirmed its 2013 revenue guidance for core EPS growth of 3-4% on sales growth of around 1%.
Market demand for its Pos-Grip offshore oil drilling technology drove strong full-year revenue and profit growth ahead of forecasts at engineer Plexus.
Profits before tax gushed 38% to £4.3m from sales that spurted 30% higher to £25.6m in the year to end-June, leading to 24% earnings growth to 3.69p per share and a 10% increase in the dividend to 0.55p per share.
The AIM-listed company secured initial contracts for its safer deep-sea High Pressure/High Temperature (HP/HT) product from three new customers totalling £3.7m, as well as wins with existing customers including Shell, Maersk and Gaz de France Suez.
Chief Executive Ben van Bilderbeek said: "I believe our proprietary patented technology places us in a unique position to benefit from industry demands both in terms of safety and operational capability".
Plexus invested £5.7m in new units for its rental supply business, which has been validated post year end as wellhead rental exploration activity has remained "buoyant".