Dr. Rath Health Foundation

Dr. Rath Health Foundation

Responsibility for a healthy world Dr. Rath Research Institute 100+ Studies Published In PubMed

Roche Swung to Full-Year Loss on Vitamin Charges

BASEL, Switzerland (Dow Jones Newswire) -- Roche Holding AG (RHHBY) Wednesday said extraordinary charges on its vitamin operations and its equity portfolio led to a 2002 net loss of 4.03 billion Swiss francs ($2.97 billion or 2.76 billion euros), compared with a net profit of 3.70 billion francs a year earlier.

However, the Swiss pharmaceuticals and diagnostics company plans to increase the dividend to 1.45 francs from 1.30 francs.

Operating profit fell to 1.34 billion francs from 3.25 billion francs, while sales rose to 29.73 billion francs from 29.16 billion francs.

The company repeated it expects double-digit sales growth in local currencies in 2003, both in the pharmaceuticals and diagnostics divisions. It also predicted a stable operating margin.

Extraordinary charges for 2002 totaling 9.4 billion francs, consisted largely of a 5.2 billion franc writedown on Roche's investments. Roche said it has decided to realize the losses that have amassed in its equity portfolio of Swiss blue-chip stocks.

The remaining writedowns, which it announced earlier, are made up of a 1.77 billion franc provision for legal action related to the company's former vitamins cartel, as well as 1.65 billion francs in impairment charges associated with the sale of the vitamins division to DSM NV of the Netherlands.

It has also set down 778 million francs in provisions for possible fines associated with a lawsuit involving its majority-owned biotechnology company Genentech Inc.(NYSE:DNA) (DNA).

Revenue in the pharmaceutical division was up 2% - or 9% in local currencies - to 19.31 billion francs, helped by the integration of Japanese pharmaceuticals company Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. The company's top-selling cancer drug MabThera/Rituxan surpassed two billion francs in sales for the first time.

The diagnostics division grew revenue by 5% - or 11% in local currencies - to 7.24 billion francs.

Operating profit margins were 21% for the pharmaceuticals division and 16% for the diagnostics division. Roche plans to strengthen its diagnostics division by taking over Swiss insulin-pumps maker Disetronic Holding AG.

Speculation has re-emerged recently that Roche may become a takeover candidate after cross-town rival Novartis AG (NVS) said it increased its stake in Roche to 32.7% from 21.3%.

Roche, which is controlled by its founding families, says it wants to stay independent.