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Roche Sales Fall Short on Tamiflu Weakness

Shares in Roche Holding slump on Tuesday after Swiss pharmaceutical company reported sales that came in below analysts' forecasts.

Roche lost 2.6% in morning trading, the worst performer in Switzerland's SMI Index.

The Basel-based company's nine-month sales increased 12 percent to 33.95 billion Swiss francs ($28.82 billion), but missed expectations due to lower orders of influenza drug Tamiflu.

Roche had been expected to post nine-month group sales of 34.22 billion francs, according to a Reuters poll of 19 analysts.

"I think the 9-month sales figures are a continuation of strong growth. We've got 12 percent growth outside of Tamiflu and we actually signalled to the markets for quite some time that Tamiflu would have peaked," Roche CEO Bill Burns told CNBC's Geoff Cutmore on Squawk Box Europe.

Tamiflu sales fell 60 percent in the third quarter, following completion of outstanding orders for pandemic influenza stockpiles.

"The Tamiflu pandemic sales were even less than I had thought," Landsbanki Kepler drug analyst Denise Anderson told Reuters.

"On the other hand, obviously given the product cycles of a lot of the drugs, the story cycle we see for Roche over the next 12 months has more to do with clinical trials news flow than results," Anderson said.

But the drugmaker does predict Tamiflu sales to governments in 2007 will rise to 1.6 billion Swiss francs ($1.36 billion) for the full year, from 1.4 billion francs in 2006, Roche's chief executive Bill Burns told CNBC Europe.

Roche also confirmed its full-year outlook on Tuesday, forecasting double-digit increases in group and drugs sales and core earnings per share to grow faster than group sales.

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