Hot Tecentriq start stands out in 'decent' Q3 for Roche

It was the same old story for Roche ($RHHBY) in Q3--but luckily for the Swiss drugmaker, “same old” includes growth from its cancer drugs.

The company’s revenue numbers came in roughly in line with consensus, increasing 4.5% for the quarter to reach 12.48 billion CHF ($12.6 billion)--just shy of the 12.55 billion analysts expected to see. Based on the performance--which Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson dubbed “decent”--the company confirmed its 2016 guidance, predicting low- to mid-single digit growth in constant currencies.

Pharma growth ticked upward, too--by 2% in constant currencies--driven, as usual, by Roche’s oncology products. One exciting point for investors, though? New immuno-oncology treatment Tecentriq--approved in May as a bladder cancer treatment, and earlier this week as a lung cancer therapy--topped consensus estimates.

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The checkpoint inhibitor--third in its class after Merck’s ($MRK) Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s ($BMY) Opdivo--tallied CHF 58 million to eclipse Wall Street’s CHF 31 million forecast. Tecentriq is “off to a good start,” Anderson wrote.

And with a coveted lung cancer nod now in hand, Roche is hoping to amp up that start even further. While both Bristol and Merck play in the disease area with their rival meds, lung cancer is a vast opportunity it’s ready to grab a piece of.

Meanwhile, blockbuster oncology treatment Avastin took a hit, with revenues declining 3% in constant currencies. One reason behind that slide? The med’s de-listing from England’s Cancer Drugs Fund, which recently came under the control of cost watchdog NICE--a change Roche CEO Severin Schwann has railed against.

- read the release

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