Roche

Sandra Horning, Roche's chief medical officer and head of global product development

3. Roche
2013 revenue: 46.780 billion Swiss francs ($52.307 billion)
2012 revenue: 45.499 billion Swiss francs ($47.8 billion)

Swiss drugmaker Roche ($RHHBY) is the one people point to when asked which company in the industry has things figured out. It has a strong stable of cancer drugs that underlies its 6% growth in revenues this year. It has a relatively diverse portfolio and enough irons in the pipeline fire to provide promise for things to come and execs who don't chase every new thing in the market to deal with the most immediate concerns.

Cancer drugs Herceptin, Avastin and Xeloda continue to perform well for the company, although the blockbuster drugs Herceptin for breast cancer and Rituxan for lymphoma are staring down the barrel of biosimilar competition, perhaps as soon as next year. But Gazyva, its successor drug to Rituxan, which Roche's Genentech developed with Biogen Idec ($BIIB), should soften that blow. The drug won FDA approval in November for first-line use in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). And age-related macular degeneration treatment Lucentis continues to see significant growth, even in the face of competition from Eylea, the hot-selling drug from Regeneron ($REGN) and Bayer. Roche also has blockbusters like rheumatoid arthritis Actemra providing sustenance to the bottom line.

That is not to say the company is trouble-free. Its longtime R&D guru Hal Barron left the company to join Google's life sciences startup Calico. Roche replaced him with Sandra Horning, who previously headed clinical development for the drugmaker's oncology and hematology businesses. There have been some R&D setbacks as well. Its highly anticipated experimental schizophrenia drug bitopertin failed the first two of 6 Phase III studies, a big disappointment in its efforts to carve out a place in neurosciences.

Still, that is one of 66 new molecular entities in its pipeline, 15 of which are in late-stage development. "With our strong product pipeline we are well positioned for future success," Roche CEO Severin Schwan has said.

And Schwan intends to steer a steady course this year. Unlike some of his peers, he is not in the midst of big dealmaking, which can prove distracting. He made it clear last year that while the company might do some $1 billion bolt-ons, maybe venture into the $3 billion to $4 billion range for the right target, he has no interest in a megamerger.

-- Eric Palmer (email | Twitter)

For more:
Post-reform Roche stumbles as top schizophrenia drug fizzles in PhIII
Roche picks a new R&D boss as Barron ships out for Google
Roche chief's comments about deal discipline push shares up
Roche bucks generics-erosion trend with 4% sales hike

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