Roche sales rise in Q1 despite strong franc

Roche sales rise in Q1 despite strong franc
Photo: Roche
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche reported a three percent rise in first quarter sales despite a strong Swiss franc, and said it was on track to meet this year's targets.

The world's largest maker of cancer drugs said sales rose to 11.8 billion francs ($12.4 billion) from 11.4 billion francs last year, beating analyst forecasts which had pegged them at an average of 11.5 billion Swiss francs.

"We started the year with strong growth and good uptake of new products," 
said Severin Schwan, the CEO of the Basel-based firm.

"Overall, we are on track to reach our full-year targets for 2015," he said.

"In 2015, Roche continues to expect sales to grow low- to mid-single digit, 
at constant exchange rates," a statement said, hinting at growth of between one and five percent.

The company said it expected to pay a higher dividend in Swiss francs to shareholders this year.

It said sales were affected by two percentage points following a shock 
decision by the Swiss National Bank in January to lift the exchange rate peg against the euro, which sent the Swiss franc soaring.

But the company said that the impact of the weaker euro was more than 
offset by a stronger dollar.

Sales in the pharmaceutical division rose four percent to 9.3 billion
francs, spurred by medicines for HER2-positive breast cancer such as Herceptin, Perjeta and Kadcyla, which saw very strong growth of 23 percent, it said.

"Avastin, which is used to treat seven different cancers, also continued to 
grow strongly," with a six percent rise in sales, it said.

In diagnostics, sales also increased six percent.

Roche this month announced it had acquired a majority stake in US molecular 
and genomic analysis business Foundation Medicine for an undisclosed sum, an acquisition expected to help it develop treatments in cancer immunotherapy.

"This collaboration aims to advance personalized healthcare, by making use 
of molecular information and genomic profiles to better target cancer tumours," Roche said Wednesday.

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