Roche Quarterly Revenue Advances on Sales of Cancer Drugs

Roche Holding AG said third-quarter sales rose 2.7 percent, as demand for its main cancer medicines in the U.S. and China offset slower sales increases at its diagnostics division.

Sales rose to 11.6 billion Swiss francs ($12.7 billion) from 11.3 billion francs a year earlier, the Basel, Switzerland-based company said in a statement today. That beat the 11.5 billion-franc average of 11 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Roche is racing to build its portfolio of new drugs before cheaper biosimilar copies of two of its bestsellers -- Rituxan for leukemia and Herceptin for breast cancer -- reach the market. New drug successes in cancer, where Roche already is market leader, have been tempered by failures in medicines outside that field.

Roche quashed rumors last month that it was preparing a bid for BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., a U.S. biotechnology company that would have given the Swiss drugmaker a portfolio of medicines to treat rare diseases. Chief Executive Officer Severin Schwan denied a report that Roche was raising financing for the deal. The company was also said to have been weighing a bid in July for Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. No Alexion offer has materialized.

The drugmaker today confirmed the 2013 forecasts it gave in January, including an increase in sales at constant exchange rates in line with last year’s pace. Sales climbed 4 percent on that basis in 2012. Roche also aims for core earnings per share to grow faster than sales.

Roche doesn’t release quarterly earnings reports. A conference call with reporters is scheduled for 8 a.m. Basel time today, and the company plans a call with investors at 2 p.m.

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