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Roche investors await Q3 US Avastin sales results

According to a Reuter's report, Swiss-based Roche will soon release its Q3 FY07 results, with investors waiting anxiously for the US sales statements of the company's cancer treatment, Avastin (bevacizumab).

According to a Reuter's report, Swiss-based Roche will soon release its Q3 FY07 results, with investors waiting anxiously for the US sales statements of the company's cancer treatment, Avastin (bevacizumab).

Roche's Q3 sales figures, adds Reuters, could be affected adversely by a reduced demand for antiviral Tamiflu (oseltamivir), sales of which were boosted in Q3 FY06 through a one-off US government stockpile purchase in case of an influenza outbreak.

Roche's US Avastin sales could have been negatively affected by use of lower doses in lung cancer and increased competition from ImClone Systems and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) Erbitux (cetuximab) in colorectal cancer.

Roche's Q3 sales are predicted to increase nine per cent to reach CHF 11.4bn (USD 9.7bn), according to a poll of 16 analysts conducted by Reuters.

Roche does not release quarterly profit figures, but its US partner Genentech does, so this will give a good indication of cancer drug demand in the US.

According to Reuters, Roche is a favourite among analysts as its cancer portfolio is  strong and patent exposure is moderate. Growing synergies between its core pharmaceuticals and diagnostics units are also helping positive statements.

Citibank analysts are concerned, however, that some risk remains to Avastin estimates. They also cite a lack of near-term pipeline products.

Roche is currently trading at about 16.9 times forecast FY08 earnings, ahead of the European sector, with an average multiple of 14.8, according to Reuters data.

30th September 2008

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