Roche says net profit soars in first half

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche turned in a 40-percent leap in net profit for the first half on Thursday, saying this was driven in part by sales growth.

Net profit hit 6.04 billion Swiss francs ($6.45 billion, 5.0 billion euros) in the January to June period, Roche said in a statement.

Sales rose by four percent on a 12-month basis to 23.29 billion Swiss francs.

The group's flagship pharmaceuticals division contributing 18.1 billion Swiss francs of that performance, posting a four-percent increase, while sales by Roche's diagnostics wing were up two percent to 5.13 billion Swiss francs.

The figures tallied with analysts' forecasts.

"Roche delivered strong operating results in the first half of 2013, driven by our existing portfolio, recently launched cancer medicines Perjeta and Kadcyla, as well as continued growth in the clinical laboratory business," chief executive Severin Schwan said.

The group underlined that demand for other anti-cancer drugs such as MabThera, Avastin and Herceptin remained strong -- sales of Avastin, for example, rose by 12 percent.

Roche noted that the major rise in net profit was also caused by comparisons with last year's accounts, hit by one-off restructuring costs of 1.68 billion Swiss francs related to the closure of its Nutley plant in the United States.