And all this against a background of rather lacklustre market growth.
The market for enzymes is estimated to be growing at around 2 to 3 per cent year on year, though there are signs that certain sectors such as the bakery enzyme market, which currently constitutes about a third of the overall food enzyme market, could bring strong gains.
By identifying such lucrative markets, Novozymes has been able to consolidate a very solid market position.
Figures released by Novozymes yesterday show that growth in both operating profit and net profit was 11per cent - higher than expected at the beginning of the year.
Operating profit rose to DKK 1,206 million, while net profit rose to DKK 861 million. Free cash flow was very satisfactory at DKK 991 million.
The solid figures top a satisfying year for the Danish company. Novozymes was voted one of Denmark's best workplaces in an annual survey conducted by the Danish Great Place to Work Institute and Danish business magazine Berlingske Nyhedsmagasin, and its enzymatic interesterification process was recently recognised as one of six Technologies of the Year for 2005.
The food-processing innovation, which uses enzymes to develop healthier fats and oils for use in margarine, baking and confectionery applications, was commended as a viable alternative to conventional partial hydrogenation technique that produces large amounts of trans fats.
Novozymes has been quick to develop viable alternatives for food makers, and the establishment of new market segments such as this has ensured that the enzymes market, despite modest general growth, remains lucrative.
While the volumes of pure enzyme protein produced are very small, their value reached over $2 billion (€1.53bn) in 2004. A recent report from Business Communications Company estimates that by 2009 the market will reach €1.83 billion.
The market for bakery enzymes came in at €32.1 million in 2003, expected to climb to €52.3 million by 2010.
As for 2006, Novozymes' sales are expected to rise by between seven to nine per cent in 2006, equivalent to an increase of six to eight per cent measured in local currency. Operating profit is also expected to rise by seven to nine per cent, while net profit is expected to increase by five to seven per cent.
Free cash flow before acquisitions is expected to be in the range DKK 750-850 million. The board of directors also approved this week an increase in the overall framework for share buy-backs from DKK 2.5 billion to DKK 4 billion.
Novozymes continues to dominate the enzyme market with about a 50 to 60 per cent share. US biotech firm Genencor, that now belongs to Danisco after acquisition clearance earlier this year, falls into second place with an approximate 30 per cent slice.