FTSE 100: AstraZeneca ups forecast as COVID treatments boost sales

·2-min read
Shares in the FTSE 100 drugmaker fell in early trade on Friday in London. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty
Shares in the FTSE 100 drugmaker fell in early trade on Friday in London. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN.L) raised its revenue forecast as sales of its COVID treatments offset a decline in its coronavirus vaccine.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) company now expects revenues to increase over 20% according to a statement on Friday that showed a second-quarter profit that topped analyst expectations.

The London-listed firm upped its full-year revenue outlook, saying it anticipates a rise of a percentage in the "low twenties" rather than the "high teens" forecast previously.

Revenues jumped to $10.8bn (£8.8bn) in the quarter to 30 June, while earnings per share, which reached $1.72, also exceeded expectations.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker hailed growth in "every geography and every market", adding it is increasing its spending on research and development.

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AstraZeneca said its $39bn acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which has helped it move into the rare diseases area, boosted performance.

Oncology contributed $3.8bn, up 20% from the same period in 2021, while the rare disease portfolio rose 12% year-on-year to $1.8bn.

Sales in Evusheld, its antibody therapy for people with compromised immune systems, were $445m and are expected to rise in the second half.

The jump is forecast to offset a decline in sales of AstraZeneca's COVID jab, developed with the University of Oxford, which also generated $455m.

Shares fell 1.9% in mid-morning trade in London on Friday.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s chief executive, said the expected revenue jump would help the company boost investment in research and development.

"We look forward to announcing the results of several important late-stage trials this year and next," he said.

The update on Friday revealed that Michel Demaré, currently the chair of AstraZeneca's remuneration committee, will take over as non-executive chairman for Leif Johansson when he retires in April 2023.

AstraZeneca also flagged headwinds from China, one of its key international markets, as COVID lockdowns and growing competition from local rivals weighed on drug sales.

It expects a single-digit percentage drop in its China revenue. The company’s executives vowed earlier this year to get Evusheld approved in the country.

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