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Roche earnings surge in first six months

Roche results surprised analysts.

(Roche)

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche has beaten forecasts with a 37 per cent rise in its half-year net income to SFr4.543 billion ($3.62 billion).

In a statement, the Basel-based company said the result was boosted by bumper growth in sales of its cancer drugs.

Group sales rose 19 per cent to SFr19.849 billion, which Roche chairman and CEO Franz Humer said resulted in "market share gains and a further improvement in earnings performance".

Sales revenues for its drugs grew three times faster than the current global rate, driven primarily by the company's leading cancer products, the influenza medicine, Tamiflu, and diagnostic brands.

"We are developing many of our marketed products for additional indications that will help fuel future growth for the Roche Group," Humer said.

The group reiterated its April forecast for double-digit sales growth for the group and the pharmaceutical division for the full year.

Roche was expected to post a 24 per cent rise in net income to SFr4.119 billion for the 12-month period, according to the average result of a poll of 17 analysts carried out by Reuters. The poll saw group sales rising 20 per cent.

Roche stock has risen around six per cent this year, outperforming the DJ Stoxx European pharmaceuticals index.

Colon cancer drug

Sales of Avastin, currently approved for colon cancer but which has been shown to work in breast and lung cancers, more than doubled to SFr1.389 billion, while breast cancer drug Herceptin posted a 105 per cent increase in sales to SFr1.813 billion.

On Monday, Switzerland's biggest drugsmaker, Novartis, announced a rise in profits of 17 per cent for first-half of the year to SFr4.58 billion ($3.67 billion).

Meanwhile, the price of medications sold in Switzerland has dropped for the first time in ten years, according to the pharmaceutical industry. The average price of prescription drugs was down three per cent since the end of last year.

The industry said the massive growth in sales of generic products was one of the main reasons for the decrease.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Group sales advance 16% to SFr20 billion, for a record half-year increase of SFr3 billion
Operating profit margin rose 2.4 percentage points to 29.2%
Net income increased 37% to SFr4.5 billion

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In brief

Roche, which was founded in 1896 in Basel, has core businesses in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.

The group is the number one in the global diagnostics markets and is a leading supplier of medicines for cancer and transplantation.

Cross-city rival Novartis has just under a one-third stake in Roche, with Novartis CEO and chairman Daniel Vasella repeatedly making it clear that he would like a merger of the two.

Roche and its founding families have consistently rejected the idea.

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