AstraZeneca remains on track for return to growth

Drugs giant AstraZeneca delivered first quarter results in line with expectations today, and is on track to return to growth this year, it said

The Anglo-Swedish group, which operates sites at Macclesfield and Alderley Park in Cheshire and Speke on Merseyside, also revealed that sales in China were ahead of target.

The group reported total revenues of £3.83bn for the period, which was a 4% fall compared with the same period last year.

Operating profits of £514.7m showed a 24% slide, compared with a year ago.

However, chief executive Pascal Soriot said: “Encouraging launches and strong performances from our newer generation of medicines made a significant contribution to product sales in the quarter, paving the way for our anticipated return to growth in 2018.

“The performance was in line with our expectations and guidance for the year is unchanged.

“We delivered strong results for Lynparza, Tagrisso and Imfinzi in Oncology, Brilinta and Farxiga in CVRM and a successful launch of Fasenra in Respiratory.

“Our China sales continued to surpass expectations and we expect that the effects of the Crestor patent expiries in Europe and Japan will recede materially in the second half.”

He added: “AstraZeneca’s pipeline continued to bring significant benefits for patients, most recently with the expanded US approval of Tagrisso for lung cancer and Lynparza for breast cancer.

“With our transformation coming into sharper commercial focus as the year progresses, we are confident of delivering on our goals.”

Today’s update said that the anticipated growth in product sales is weighted towards the second half of the year, which reflects the remaining impact of generic competition, namely Crestor in Europe and Japan, as well as the growing contribution from newer medicines.

It also warned that variations in performance between quarters can be expected to continue.

However, it added that, based only on average exchange rates in the three months to March 31, and the company’s published currency sensitivities, there would be a low single-digit favourable impact from currency movements on product sales and core earnings per share in the financial year for 2018.

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