At current exchange rates, sales fell by 6% over the first three months of the year. The erosion in sales is minimal, but has been ongoing for two years, and is no doubt partly linked to the Swiss franc's trajectory over the period; in this quarter, the currency effect alone wiped out all growth in the pharmaceuticals segment.

The Group's publication emphasizes growth in "base business", adjusted for the surge in activity linked to Covid, as well as performance at constant exchange rates, in order to defend another balance sheet, with, in theory, 7% growth for the quarter. Financial communication gimmick or legitimate reinterpretation of results? It's up to investors to decide which version they find more credible.

What is certain is that Roche has embarked on a slimming cure. As an R&D titan and oncology heavyweight, the Swiss group used to maintain an extraordinarily dense pipeline. But in the last six months, under the leadership of its new CEO Thomas Schinecker, one-fifth of its research programs for new molecules have been abandoned.

Manufacturing operations are also under the microscope. Last month, Roche sold Genentech's Vacaville facility in California to its compatriot Lonza for $1.2 billion. This complex restructuring program is still in its early stages; it is part of a geographical and technical pivot for the Group, which intends to develop new production capacities in gene therapy.

Roche should receive the green light from the regulator in the coming months to market its treatments for paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and a class of breast cancers. Unlike Bayer, for example, the Group is not beset by patent expiry deadlines; to date, 55% of its portfolio of marketed treatments is still considered innovative.

Among these, the Ocrevus , Hemlibra , Tecentriq and Alecensa franchises - for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, hemophilia and lung cancer - account for two-thirds of sales; the other third is largely dominated by the ophthalmic treatment Vabysmo.

Covid-related distortion aside, the Group's long-term economic and financial performance remains remarkably stable. In the pantheon of major pharmaceutical groups, Roche also remains the most respected institution in R&D - despite some recent setbacks, notably in the fight against Alzheimer's disease and the abandonment of Carmot Therpautics' anti-obesity treatment, despite its acquisition a few months ago.

By falling to a valuation floor of fifteen times earnings, the Group's market capitalization is back on a low it hasn't seen since 2012; over the last decade, it traded at an average of twenty times earnings.