Shares in Roche have dipped this morning as the Swiss firm has just posted lower-than-expected sales for the first quarter.

Group turnover was down 4% to 10.86 billion Swiss francs, some way off analysts expectations. Pharmaceutical sales were down 6% to 8.57 billion francs, hit hard by influenza jab Tamiflu (oseltamivir) which fell back 64% globally to 278 million francs. The decline was expected, as most of the firm’s existing pandemic stockpiling orders have now been fulfilled

Nevertheless, sales of the division’s oncology products were again impressive. Globally, MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab) for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma grew 17% to 1.41 billion francs, while sales of Herceptin (trastuzumab) grew 11% to 1.23 billion francs. Avastin (bevacizumab) recorded an increase of 35% to 1.13 billion francs, while Tarceva (erlotinib) sales grew by 28% to 286 million francs.

The transplantation products, CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) and Valcyte (valganciclovir)/Cymevene (ganciclovir) rose 11% and 9% respectively to 487 million francs and 125 million francs. Roche’s hepatitis C treatment Pegasys (peginterferon alfa) slipped 3% to 369 million francs, while osteoporosis drug Boniva/Bonviva (ibandronic acid) put in a good showing, climbing 56% to 241 million francs.

New chief executive Severin Schwan said that Roche has got off to a very good start this year, “considering the strong first-quarter benchmark set in 2007”. Sales from the cancer portfolio and healthy growth at its diagnostics unit “more than compensated” for the almost 750 million francs in pandemic sales of Tamiflu recorded in the like, year-earlier period”.

Broker Collins Stewart was not concerned about the blip caused by Tamiflu, noting that oncology will continue to drive growth. However analyst Navid Malik said that “we see additional growth from new indications including rheumatoid arthritis”, noting that Actemra (tocilizumab) has just been approved in Japan “and is set to become a blockbuster”.

Investors are less sure, and Roche shares were down 4.6% at 10.20 this morning to 162.80 francs.