(Adds comment from CEO, details about growth targets)
By John Miller
ZURICH, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche expects sales and earnings to rise in 2019, Chief Executive Severin Schwan said on Thursday, even as more copies of the company's $22 billion trio of cancer medicines Rituxan, Herceptin and Avastin hit the market.
Core operating profit last year rose 9 percent to 20.5 billion Swiss francs ($20.65 billion), Roche said in a statement.
Sales rose 7 percent to 56.8 billion francs, just ahead of the 56.4 billion francs average estimate in a Reuters poll.
Schwan forecast 2019 sales and earnings-per-share growth in the "low- to mid-single digit" percentage range, spurred by new drugs including Ocrevus multiple sclerosis drug, Hemlibra for hemophilia A and cancer medicines Alecensa and Tecentriq.
"Based on the successful launches and our strong product pipeline, Roche is well positioned for continued growth," Schwan said.
The company board proposed a dividend increase to 8.70 francs per share. ($1 = 0.9927 Swiss francs) (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)