Roche lifts full-year outlook again as first-half sales get boost from performance of Ocrevus, Tecentriq

Headline results for the first half:

Pharmaceuticals division sales

CHF 24.2 billion ($24.5 billion)



CHF 30.5 billion ($30.9 billion)



CHF 8.9 billion ($9 billion)


Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

"In the first half of the year, we achieved very strong results, driven by high demand for our new medicines," remarked CEO Severin Schwan, noting that 100,000 patients in the US have so far been treated with the multiple sclerosis therapy Ocrevus since its launch. The executive explained that overall sales in the pharmaceuticals division were driven by rising volumes, while prices in the US remained stable.

Schwan said the results showed that Roche was "very well on track to rejuvenate our portfolio," as it faces increasing competition from biosimilar versions of a number of its cancer drugs, which is set to intensify in the fourth quarter. The CEO added "based on the performance in the first half of the year, we are increasing the outlook for the full-year 2019."

Other results:

  • Pharmaceuticals division sales in US: CHF 13.4 billion ($13.6 billion), +18%
  • Pharmaceuticals division sales in Europe: CHF 4.2 billion ($4.3 billion), -7%
  • Avastin: CHF 3.7 billion ($3.8 billion), +7%, with growth driven in the US and internationally, particularly in China due to broader market penetration
  • Herceptin: CHF 3.3 billion ($3.4 billion), -9%, hit by biosimilar launches in Europe and Japan, as well as the switch to Kadcyla in the adjuvant setting in the US
  • MabThera/Rituxan: CHF 3.3 billion ($3.4 billion), -4%, declining 36% in Europe and 46% in Japan as a result of biosimilar competition
  • Perjeta: CHF 1.8 billion ($1.8 billion), +34%, boosted by demand in adjuvant early breast cancer
  • Ocrevus: CHF 1.7 billion ($1.7 billion), +63%, led by "strong" growth in the US, supported by launches in Europe and internationally
  • Tecentriq: CHF 782 million ($793 million), +141%, mainly driven by the US, Europe and Japan
  • Hemlibra: CHF 535 million ($543 million), with "very strong" uptake in the US, Europe and Japan
  • Alecensa: CHF 421 million ($427 million), +50%, with Europe and the international region as the main drivers

Looking ahead:

Roche now expects revenue this year to grow in the mid- to high-single digit range, at constant exchange rates, lifted from an earlier forecast of mid-single digit growth. Core earnings per share targeted to grow "broadly in line" with sales, at constant exchange rates.

The company also reaffirmed that it expects to close the $4.3-billion acquisition of Spark Therapeutics this year and is currently working with authorities in the US and the UK on the matter. Earlier this month, Roche disclosed that it will extend the deadline for closing the transaction by three months to April 30, 2020 if needed. "We feel very confident we can answer all the questions that are part of this review and confident we can close the transaction by the end of the year," Schwan remarked Thursday.

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