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Roche: beats sales forecasts thanks to new drugs

( - Switzerland's Roche has beaten market expectations for first-quarter sales, helped by its new portfolio of products, and has raised its guidance for 2019.

In the first quarter, the drugmaker's sales rose 8% to 14.8 billion Swiss francs, with the pharmaceuticals division's sales up 10% at 11.9 billion Swiss francs.

Key growth drivers were the multiple sclerosis medicine Ocrevus and the cancer drugs Perjeta and Tecentriq, as well as the new haemophilia medicine Hemlibra, Roche said.

The strong uptake of these new medicines was partially offset by lower sales of Herceptin and MabThera/Rituxan, due to pressure from biosimilars, it said.

The Basel-based company raised its outlook for 2019, with sales now expected to grow in the mid-single digit range, at constant exchange rates.

It expects core EPS to grow broadly in line with sales, at constant exchange rates, Roche said.

The group also said it expects to further increase its dividend in Swiss francs.

Roche shares were up 0.5% at 270.5 Swiss francs, performing slightly better than the pretty flat Zurich SMI index (+0.1%).

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