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Roche Grows Revenue Despite Biosimilar Competition

By Brian Orelli, PhD - Jan 30, 2020 at 2:55PM

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Its newer drugs are more than making up for the waning sales of older medications.

Roche (RHHBY 0.60%) capped off 2019 with sales up 8% for the year to 61.5 billion Swiss francs ($63.5 billion); at constant currency exchange rates, sales would have been up 9%. Core earnings per share grew 11% to 20.16 francs.

Most of the top-line growth came from the pharmaceutical division, which grew revenues 10% year over year, thanks to growing sales of multiple sclerosis treatment Ocrevus, hemophilia treatment Hemlibra, and cancer treatments Tecentriq and Perjeta. Those gains more than made up for declining sales of cancer drugs MabThera/Rituxan, Herceptin, and Avastin, which now face competition from biosimilars in various countries.

Revenues from Roche's smaller diagnostic division only grew 1%, although the company highlighted its immunodiagnostics business, which helped its centralized and point-of-care-solutions products grow 3% at constant exchange rates.

Assuming shareholders approve, the drugmaker plans to increase its dividend to 9 francs per share -- which would make 2020 the 33rd consecutive year it has boosted its payout.

Doctor talking to a patient in an exam room

Image source: Getty Images.

Roche gained two Food and Drug Administration approvals during the fourth quarter: Tecentriq as a first-line treatment for metastatic, non-squamous, non-small-cell lung cancer; and Xofluza for the treatment of flu. It also gained an expanded approval in Europe for Kadcyla as a treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer after surgery. During the quarter, the company also closed its $4.8 billion acquisition of Spark Therapeutics, which gave the company access to Luxturna, a treatment for a genetic condition that leads to blindness, as well as the rest of Spark's gene therapy pipeline.

This year, management expects sales to grow in the low-to-mid-single-digit percentage range at constant currency rates. Growth in core earnings per share is expected to be in a similar range.

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