Roche sees slower 2022 sales growth as COVID-19 test demand eases By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A box of material for rapid COVID-19 antigenic tests made by Swiss drugmaker Roche is pictured at the University Hospital (CHUV) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Lausanne, Switzerland, November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Bal

By Ludwig Burger

(Reuters) – Swiss drugmaker Roche said sales growth would slow this year as it braces for less demand for its COVID-19 medicines and diagnostics.

In an earnings statement on Thursday, it guided for currency-adjusted 2022 sales to be flat or grow in the low-single digits, below last year’s 9% gain because it expects demand for its COVID-19 medicines and diagnostics to decrease.

Roche said it anticipates sales of COVID-19 medicines and diagnostics to decrease by about 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.17 billion) to around 5 billion francs, it added.

It saw earnings edge higher in 2021 as brisk demand for COVID diagnostic tools and new prescriptions for drugs such as Hemlibra against haemophilia and cancer immunotherapy Tecentriq offset a sales decline in older cancer drugs.

Core operating profit, or earnings before interest and tax, adjusted for one-off items, gained 2% to 21.9 billion Swiss francs ($23.82 billion), in line with Refinitiv’s smart estimate analyst poll.

It proposed raising its dividend to 9.30 francs per share.

It is aiming for core earnings per share to grow in the “low to mid-single digit” percentage range at constant exchange rates this year, including the accretive effect of the recent repurchase of shares previously held by rival Novartis.

Late last year, its Ronapreve COVID-19 antibody treatment, made in a partnership with Regeneron (NASDAQ:), was shown to have lost its neutralising activity against the Omicron variant.

($1 = 0.9204 Swiss francs)

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