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Higher dividend planned: Roche benefits from pharmaceutical business, outlook confirmed – share picks up | message


The pharmaceutical company Roche implemented slightly more in the first quarter than in the previous year. Management has so far seen only limited effects of the corona pandemic on its own business, as Roche announced on Wednesday when the figures were presented in Basel. Meanwhile, the company continues to work on products related to the lung disease COVID-19.

According to Roche, an anti-Sars CoV-2 serology test is currently in the late development phase. It could be available to the company from early May. Roche plans to ramp up the monthly production capacity of the tests as quickly as possible. Another corona test has already received emergency approval from the FDA.

In addition to diagnostics, Roche continues to work on drugs to treat the disease. A phase III clinical study on the safety and efficacy of Actemra / Roactemra in severe COVID-19-related pneumonia is currently ongoing in various countries. Roche expects results in early summer. The company plans to rapidly expand its production capacities worldwide. So far, the remedy is mainly used for arthritis.

“The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the first quarter represents an unprecedented global challenge, especially for health systems worldwide,” said Roche CEO Severin Schwan of the situation. So far, Roche has held up well. The company says the global supply chain for drugs and diagnostics is intact.

The Swiss benefited from new products in the first quarter. These were able to compensate for the competitive pressure through so-called biosimilars, i.e. copycat drugs from biopharmaceutical drugs. Revenues rose 2 percent year-on-year to CHF 15.1 billion (just under EUR 14.4 billion). Adjusted for currency effects, the increase was 7 percent.

Adjusted for currency effects, the pharmaceutical division grew somewhat faster than the diagnostics area. The main growth drivers were younger products such as the cancer drug Tecentriq, the hemophilia drug Hemlibra, Ocrevus for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and the breast cancer drug Perjeta. Together, the new products generated sales of CHF 4.6 billion.

Roche confirmed its outlook for 2020. Management expects a currency-adjusted increase in sales in the low to medium single-digit percentage range. Core earnings per share are expected to grow at approximately the same rate. The dividend is also expected to rise further in 2020.

In Swiss trade, the Roche share ultimately rose 2.67 percent to CHF 344.65.

ZURICH (Dow Jones) / BASEL (dpa-AFX)

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