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Roche Profits Rose 14 Pct. in 2000

February 28, 2001

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) _ Pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding AG said Wednesday its profit before onetime items increased 14 percent last year as growth in sales of its medical testing equipment outpaced its gains in drug sales.

Roche earned 5 billion Swiss francs ($3 billion) before exceptional items in 2000 compared with 4.40 billion francs a year earlier.

Including onetime items 2.5 billion francs ($1.5 billion) obtained from sales of shares in biotech company Genentech, Roche profit was up 50 percent to 8.6 billion francs ($5.1 billion) from 5.76 billion francs a year ago.

Sales rose 8 percent to 27.5 billion francs ($16.4 billion) in 2000 from 25.5 billion francs a year ago.

In trading in Zurich, Roche shares fell 4.2 percent.

Most of the sales improvement came in the company’s diagnostics division, which produces medical testing equipment. Sales there were up 18 percent to 6.2 billion ($3.7 billion).

``Another year of exceptionally robust sales of diabetes monitoring products″ was a key contributor to the performance, the company said in a statement.

Tests for the detection of diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis remain major sales drivers, it said.

Pharmaceutical sales were up 7 percent to 17.7 billion francs ($10.5 billion).

The company said the figures were affected by the expiration of patents on an anesthetic and a stroke drug in the United States, as well as flattening sales of Roche’s Xenical obesity drug and weaker sales of Rocephin, which is used to treat bacterial infections.

The board of directors has proposed a dividend of 115 francs ($68) per share, compared with 100 francs ($60) last year.

The company is also planning a 100-for-one share split. Many Swiss companies have announced share-splits in recent months to bring the value of individual shares more in line with prices on the New York stock market.

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