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Roche (RHHBY - Analyst Report) recently announced that its Board of Directors will propose to elect Christoph Franz as the new Chairman at the Annual Shareholder Meeting scheduled for Mar 2014.

Franz is nominated to succeed the current Chairman, Franz B. Humer, who would not be standing for re-election. Humer has been serving Roche in numerous positions since 1995.

Franz is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Germany-based Lufthansa Group. However, he will not renew his contract as the company’s CEO beyond May 2014. We remind investors that Franz has also been on Roche’s Board since 2011.

We note that Roche Holding is a leading healthcare company which discovers, develops and provides innovative therapeutic drugs for diverse medical needs in over 150 countries.

Apart from providing therapeutic products and services for diverse medical needs, Roche also focuses on innovative diagnostic solutions for the early detection and treatment of diseases.

The company generated revenues of CHF 45.5 billion in 2012. The core area of focus for Roche continues to be oncology, which accounted for 61% of total pharmaceutical sales in 2012.

We were impressed by the company’s solid performance in the first half of 2013.  The outlook for 2013 is bright as well.

Roche continues to expect sales in 2013 to increase in line with 2012 growth rates. Roche expects core earnings per share to grow at a higher rate than sales in 2013. Moreover, Roche expects to further increase its dividend in 2013.

However, increasing competition from biosimilars will pose as a major challenge for the new Chairman.

Roche currently carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Other stocks that look attractive include Bayer (BAYRY - Analyst Report), Novo Nordisk (NVO - Analyst Report) and Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ - Analyst Report). All three carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). 

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