January 31, 2019 / 6:23 AM / 5 months ago

Roche says operating profit rises, helped by Ocrevus

ZURICH, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Roche said on Thursday 2018 core operating profit rose 9 percent as the Swiss drugmaker was spurred by its Ocrevus multiple sclerosis drug.

Core operating rose to 20.5 billion Swiss francs ($20.65 billion), up from 19 billion francs a year earlier. Sales rose 7 percent to 56.8 billion francs, just ahead of the 56.4 billion francs average estimate in a Reuters poll.

Chief Executive Severin Schwan expects 2019 sales and earnings growth in the "low- to mid-single digit percentage" range.

The Roche board proposed a dividend increase to 8.70 francs per share. ($1 = 0.9927 Swiss francs) (Reporting by John Miller)

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