Wednesday, January 30 09:32:38
Swiss drugmaker Roche forecast a rise in sales and profits this year, helped by new cancer medicines it hopes will shield it from the patent expiries ravaging many rivals.
Roche, the world's largest maker of cancer drugs, said today it hoped sales would grow in line with 2012, when they rose 7 percent to 45.5 billion Swiss francs ($49 billion).
The Basel-based group also said it was aiming for core earnings, up 11 percent in 2012, to increase ahead of sales.
That assessment was more upbeat than cross-town rival Novartis, which last week guided for a fall in profit in 2013 as it grapples with competition from cheaper copies of its top-selling product.
Roche has been spared the pain from a wave of patent expiries hitting many rivals, as most of its medicines do not face imminent generic competition.
It also has high hopes for new treatments like skin cancer drug Zelboraf and breast cancer medicine Perjeta, and some analysts predicted its guidance for 2013 would prove cautious.
"In our opinion, sales in 2013 should pick up more strongly; we see the guidance as conservative as usual," said ZKB analyst Michael Nawrath.
Roche proposed a dividend of 7.35 francs per share, compared with 6.80 francs a year ago, and pledged to keep hiking shareholder payouts.
This wasn't enough for some investors, though, who had speculated the group might pay a special dividend.
Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan dismissed this, pointing out the group's net debt to assets ratio of 16 percent was still above its 0-15 percent target range. ( C) Reuters