Roche has posted what it calls a solid set of results for 2010 this morning, saying that this year's figures will be hurt by US healthcare reform, lower prices in Europe and slower growth from the cancer blockbuster Avastin.
Group sales were flat in local currencies at 47.47 billion Swiss francs, while net income rose 4% to 8.89 billion francs. Pharmaceutical sales were down 2% to 37.06 billion francs, driven again by its oncology segment. Avastin (bevacizumab) had sales of 6.46 billion francs, up 9%, but the company reduced its peak sales estimates for this year to 7 billion francs from a previous forecast of 9 billion francs, due in part to the US Food and Drug Administration's proposal to pull Avastin's breast cancer indication, a decision Roche is appealing.
MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab), for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia as well as rheumatoid arthritis, contributed 6.36 billion francs, an increase of 9%. Sales of Herceptin (trastuzumab) for HER2-positive breast cancer rose 7% to 5.43 billion francs, while the chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) grew 17% to 1.43 billion francs. Tarceva (erlotinib), for advanced lung and pancreatic cancer, increased 6% to 1.33 billion francs.
As for Roche’s other products, Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a), for hepatitis B and C, inched up 2% to 1.65 billion francs, while US turnover of Lucentis (ranibizumab) for wet age-related macular degeneration jumped 27% to 1.46 billion francs. Sales of the antiviral Tamiflu (oseltamivir) predictably fell 73% to 873 million francs, as swine flu fears disappeared. RoActemra/Actemra (tocilizumab), for rheumatoid arthritis, rocketed 177% to 397 million francs, while sales of the renal anaemia treatment Mircera (methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta) rose 51% to 255 million francs.
Roche chief executive Severin Schwan said the results are solid "despite an increasingly challenging" environment and excluding Tamiflu the pharmaceutical division grew above the market. He claimed that "the twelve innovative new molecular entities in our late-stage pharmaceutical pipeline form a strong basis for the company’s future success", noting that six of them are being developed for "specific patient subpopulations with the aim to advance personalised healthcare in key therapeutic areas such as cancer and asthma". However, Roche also revealed that it has returned the rights to the experimental diabetes drug taspoglutide to France's Ipsen due to side effects problems.
For 2011, group and pharmaceuticals sales (excluding Tamiflu) are expected to grow at low single-digit rates in local currencies, "reflecting the impact of US healthcare reform and European austerity measures", Roche said. These factors and the introduction of an excise tax in the USA should see core earnings per share grow at a high single-digit rate.