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Roche's MDx Sales Inch up 1 Percent in 2010

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Roche today reported that its 2010 molecular diagnostics sales were up 1 percent over fiscal-year 2009, and its applied science sales were flat year over year.

The Swiss pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and life science research products giant reported molecular diagnostic sales of CHF 1.19 billion ($1.27 billion) for 2010, up from CHF 1.18 billion in 2009. Sales for its applied science business, which includes its sequencing, cell analysis, and microarray products, were roughly flat at CHF 868 million compared to CHF 870 million for 2009.

The firm said that its virology products were the main growth driver for the year. In addition, Roche said that demand for its cobas 4800 molecular diagnostics system was strong, with "good growth" in North America and steady sales in the European Union.

Roche noted that it filed for US Food and Drug Administration clearance during 2010 for its HPV molecular assay and expects to receive marketing approval in the second half of this year.

While Roche said sales for the applied science business was driven by its cell analysis, genomics, and custom biotech products, sales of its MagNA Pure and LightCycler product lines for sample preparation and quantitative PCR analysis declined year over year due to "dramatically lower demand for influenza A (H1N1) virus testing.

Overall, its diagnostics division had sales of CHF 10.42 billion, up 4 percent from CHF 10.10 billion for 2009. The division also reported a cash operating profit of CHF 2.2 billion, an increase of 26 percent over 2009.

Sales for the company as a whole were down 3 percent at CHF 47.47 billion from CHF 49.05 billion. Its profit was up 4 percent to CHF 8.89 billion from CHF 8.51 billion.

"The Group results are solid despite an increasingly challenging market environment," Roche CEO Severin Schwan said in a statement.

The firm further noted in a statement that both the pharma and diagnostics divisions had "good underlying growth," which compensated for the expected decline in sales of flu drug Tamiflu, as well as the "impacts of healthcare reforms and austerity measures."

In September, Roche announced a cost-cutting initiative to be implemented during 2010-2012. It subsequently said that the effort would include 4,800 job cuts, mostly in the firm's pharmaceuticals division, and result in annual cost savings of CHF2.4 billion.

Thus far, the initiative has cost Roche CHF 1.3 billion in severance and impairments of intangible assets.

Roche said that its board of directors has proposed a dividend increase of 10 percent to CHF 6.60.

The firm said it expects 2011 core earnings per share to grow at a high single-digit rate at constant exchange rates, as it predicted health reform in the US and austerity measures in Europe to dampen bottom-line results.

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