Roche stabilizes sales and confirms forecast

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The pharmaceutical company Roche had less turnover in the first nine months than a year earlier.


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In addition to the effects of the corona pandemic, the strong Swiss franc also had a negative impact, as the company announced in Basel on Thursday. While the diagnostics division benefited from the high demand for corona tests, in the pharmaceutical business, especially important older drugs were under pressure from imitation competition.

In terms of sales, the pharmaceutical company slightly missed expectations, wrote Goldman Sachs analyst Keyur Parekh in a quick estimate. Meanwhile, the confirmed full-year outlook is reassuring. Wimal Kapadia from the analysis company Bernstein named above all the pharmaceutical division, which according to his calculations would have missed the average analyst estimates by around 5 percent in the third quarter. The expert noted that the worsened development was mainly driven by three older but important drugs that are under imitation competition from Biosimulars: Avastin, Rituxan and Herceptin.

According to the company, sales fell in the first nine months by 5 percent to just under CHF 44 billion (almost EUR 41 billion). After currency adjustments Roche a slight increase of 1 percent. The drug business fell by 1 percent after adjusting for currency effects. In the peak of the corona crisis, patients went to the doctor less often, and the hospitals had reserved their beds mainly for corona patients and emergencies.

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In the pharmaceutical business, the new products in particular performed well: for example the multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus, the cancer drug Tecentriq and the hemophilia drug Helimbra.

In contrast, the diagnostics division was able to achieve growth of 9 percent due to the high demand for Covid-19 tests. Thanks to the corona tests and continued good demand for the new drugs, sales stabilized in the third quarter with a currency-adjusted increase of 1 percent.

The group confirmed the outlook for the current year. In 2020 as a whole, currency-adjusted sales should continue to grow in the low to mid-single-digit percentage range, while core earnings per share should increase at roughly the same pace.

At the close of trading, Roche shares on the SIX lost 3.21 percent to 308.00 francs. (Dow Jones / dpa-AFX)

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