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Roche raises 2017 outlook after H1 beat

  • Roche raised its 2017 outlook after first-half profit beat market expectations
  • Core earnings per share rose 6 percent to 8.23 Swiss francs, faster than 5 percent sales growth to 26.34 billion.
  • First-half sales in the pharmaceuticals division increased 5 percent to 20.5 billion Swiss francs.

Roche, the biggest maker of cancer drugs, raised its 2017 outlook after first-half profit beat market expectations just as the Swiss group's ageing portfolio of blockbuster medicines faces increasing competition from biosimilar copies.

"In 2017, Roche now expects sales to grow mid-single digit, at constant exchange rates. Core earnings per share are targeted to grow broadly in line with sales, at constant exchange rates. Roche expects to further increase its dividend in Swiss francs," it said on Thursday.

Core earnings per share rose 6 percent to 8.23 Swiss francs, faster than 5 percent sales growth to 26.34 billion. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected core EPS of 7.93 francs on sales of 26.11 billion.

Roche had earlier forecast 2017 sales to grow at a low- to mid-single-digit rate at constant exchange rates, with core earnings per share broadly in line with sales.

Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan contends that his company can continue to grow sales despite the arrival of biosimilars by introducing new drugs including likely blockbuster Ocrevus against multiple sclerosis.

But he has also been hit with dour trials news -- Roche's new immunotherapy Tecentriq failed in a trial against bladder cancer, and its breast-cancer combination Herceptin and Perjeta have disappointed, as well -- that could complicate his efforts.

Raising guidance after successful launch of new drugs

"(Our raised outlook for 2017) is entirely driven by the successful launch of new medicines such as Alecensa, Tecentriq and very importantly Ocrevus. Those medicines do very well and that has led to the strong performance in the first six months and we expect this performance and the dynamics to continue for the remainder of the year," Schwan told CNBC on Thursday.

First-half sales in the pharmaceuticals division increased 5 percent to 20.5 billion Swiss francs. Recently launched medicines Tecentriq, Ocrevus and Alecensa contributed 0.5 billion francs of new sales, or half the division's growth, it said.

When asked about the ongoing uncertainty surrounding U.S. health care, Schwan replied, "It is very difficult to predict how the legislation in the U.S. will develop, but overall I remain very confident."

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