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)