Roche sales rebound as COVID-19 tests help power growth By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign at a diagnostics site for Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche is seen, in Burgess Hill, Britain, October 7, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

ZURICH (Reuters) -Roche’s first-half net profit rose 2% to 8.22 billion Swiss francs ($8.96 billion) and sales increased by 8% at constant exchange rates to a better-than expected 30.71 billion francs as the Swiss drugmaker benefited from demand for COVID-19 tests.

It maintained its full-year forecast for sales to grow at a low- to mid-single-digit rate at constant exchange rates, with core earnings per share growing about the same as sales.

“Roche expects to increase its dividend in Swiss francs further,” it added.

Diagnostics division sales grew 51% in the first half due to high demand for COVID-19 tests and strong momentum in routine testing, Roche said, helping to compensate for a 3% decline in pharmaceuticals sales, although drug sales rose in the second quarter after a weak start to the year.

“We have achieved good results in the first half, primarily thanks to the demand for our new medicines and COVID-19 tests. The Pharma Division began to grow again in the second quarter. The base diagnostics business shows strong momentum. As expected, demand for COVID-19 tests peaked in the second quarter,” Chief Executive Severin Schwan said.

($1 = 0.9173 Swiss francs)

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