As­traZeneca fore­casts growth

The Irish Times - Business - - MARKETS -

Strong de­mand for As­traZeneca’s new drugs – es­pe­cially those for can­cer – drove a re­turn to sales growth in the third quar­ter and the drug­maker said it an­tic­i­pated years of sus­tained im­prove­ment and ris­ing profit mar­gins.

Prod­uct sales in the three months rose 8 per cent, or 9 per cent in con­stant cur­ren­cies, which is the bench­mark As­traZeneca uses for mea­sur­ing the re­turn to growth that it has been promis­ing for 2018.

It is the first quar­ter of sus­tain­able prod­uct sales growth since 2014 and shares in the group, which re­sisted a takeover bid by Pfizer in 2014, rose more than 5 per cent to hit a record high of £61.85 yes­ter­day.

As­traZeneca has faced a mas­sive loss of patents on older drugs since 2012, wip­ing out more than half of its sales. But a batch of 10 new medicines – which grew 85 per cent in the lat­est quar­ter – now of­fer a path to ac­cel­er­at­ing growth.

“When we set out our strat­egy a few years ago, not ev­ery­body be­lieved we could trans­form As­traZeneca,” said chief ex­ec­u­tive Pas­cal So­riot.

Its new medicines in­clude Imfinzi and Ta­grisso for lung can­cer, Lyn­parza for ovar­ian can­cer and Fasenra for se­vere asthma. Sales of Ta­grisso, Imfinzi and Fasenra all beat an­a­lysts’ fore­casts, although Lyn­parza missed marginally.

As­traZeneca also has high hopes for di­a­betes drug Farx­iga, which cut heart risks in a ma­jor study. The full de­tails of that trial will be un­veiled at a med­i­cal meet­ing on Novem­ber 10th.

China re­mains a stand­out mar­ket, with quar­terly sales up 32 per cent in the quar­ter, as As­traZeneca con­tin­ued to out­per­form ri­vals in the world’s sec­ond big­gest drugs mar­ket, where it is turn­ing in­creas­ingly to smart tech to drive sales.

De­spite the good news on the prod­uct front, how­ever, As­traZeneca is still tran­si­tion­ing to its growth phase and to­tal rev­enue and earn­ings fell in the quar­ter, as an­a­lysts ex­pected. On av­er­age, they had fore­cast earn­ings of 72 cents on rev­enue of $5.3 bil­lion. – Reuters

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