Strong franc eats into Roche first-half profits
Pharmaceutical giant Roche on Thursday said its first-half profit fell by seven percent to 5.6 billion francs ($6.2 billion), hit by the strength of Switzerland's currency.
But the company said it remained confident of its 2014 outlook thanks to the solid performance of new drugs, pointing out that without the impact of exchange rates its profits were up two percent.
Sales rose by five percent in local currencies, but were down by one percent in Swiss francs, to 22.9 billion francs.
Roche, the world's market-leader in cancer care, pinned that on the weakening US dollar, the Japanese yen and several Latin American currencies, against the Swiss franc.
The group's flagship pharmaceutical division saw sales rise by four percent in constant exchange rates, to 17.8 billion francs.
"We had a good first half, driven mainly by our cancer medicines," said Severin Schwan, chief executive of Roche.
It posted a 20-percent increase in sales of treatments for breast cancer -- including Herceptin, a star of its portfolio, and new drugs Perjeta and Kadcyla.
Another top performer was leukaemia drug Gazyva, which turned over 18 million francs.
Gazyva was approved in the United States last November, and received a green light from European Union authorities in May.
"Based on our half-year performance, I am confident that we will meet our full-year targets," said Schwan.
Roche has forecast sales growth this year of one to five percent.