Roche profits hit by strong Swiss franc

28th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche reported a five-percent drop in net profits in 2015, as a strong Swiss franc ate into its robust sales of diagnostics and cancer medications.

The world's largest maker of cancer drugs raked in a net profit of 9.0 billion Swiss francs ($8.9 billion, 8.1 billion euros), missing by far analyst expectations.

Analysts polled by Swiss financial news agency AWP had expected to see a net profit of 10.2 billion francs for the year.

But Roche stressed the disappointing figures were largely due to the impact of the soaring value of the Swiss franc after the Swiss central bank a year ago decided to halt efforts to artificially hold down the currency against the euro.

Not counting the impact of currency fluctuations, the company's net profit swelled four percent, it pointed out in its earnings statement.

Roche meanwhile reported stronger-than-expected sales, which ticked in at 48.1 billion Swiss francs for the year -- up five percent in constant currencies but only one percent after exchange rates had taken their toll.

Analysts polled by AWP had expected the company to book sales of 47.9 billion francs in 2015.

Roche's pharmaceutical division -- the company's biggest revenue generator -- saw its sales expand five percent, boosted mainly by its oncology division, and particularly strong demand for its star cancer drug Avastin and for its breast cancer treatments.

Roche's diagnostics division meanwhile booked a six-percent hike in sales driven especially by its immunodiagnostic products.

Going forward, the company said it expected sales to swell between one and five percent at constant exchange rates this year, adding that earnings per share should grow faster.

Following the news, Roche saw its share price drop 4.28 percent to 256.90 Swiss francs a piece in late morning trading as the Swiss stock exchange's main SMI index dipped 1.2 percent.

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© 2016 AFP

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