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Roche's net income declines 5%

PHARMACEUTICALS maker Roche Holding AG said yesterday at an annual news conference that its net income for 2008 fell by 5 percent because of the strong Swiss franc, falling sales of its anti-flu drug and a drop in income from investments.

Full-year net income was 10.8 billion francs (US$9.33 billion), down from 11.4 billion francs in 2007, the company said.

Net profit attributable to shareholders was 8.97 billion francs, an 8 percent drop from 9.76 billion francs the year before.

Sales dropped to 45.6 billion francs, 1 percent less than the 46.1 billion francs in 2007. Roche said sales were harmed by a strong Swiss franc and a sharp decline in orders for anti-flu medicine Tamiflu.

Sales of Tamiflu, which governments globally have been stockpiling to prepare for a possible flu pandemic, fell 68 percent to 609 million francs last year, compared with 1.6 billion francs in 2007.

The company said that it would increase its dividend for 2008 by 9 percent to 5 francs per share.

The company registered a net financial income of 200 million francs in 2008, which is 600 million francs less than in 2007, mostly due to lower interest income on liquid funds and cuts in interest rates, Roche said.

Sales in the company's pharmaceuticals division fell by 2 percent, while sales at the diagnostics division gained 3 percent.

Analysts at the conference said the results failed to live up to expectations.


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