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AZ forecasts growth in 2021 after revenues surge in Q4

Most recent quarter is first 'for many years' in which product sales were in excess of $7bn

Shares in AstraZeneca (AZ) were up by over 2% in morning trading after fourth quarter (Q4) sales beat expectations, with strong growth now forecasted for 2021.

For the full-year, AZ reported an increase in total product sales of 10% to $25.89bn, with total revenue coming in at $26.62bn globally.

AZ added that this most recent quarter was the first ‘for many years’ in which product sales were in excess of $7bn, reflecting a 12% increase in Q4 2020 compared to the same period last year.

This growth was primarily driven by sale increases in AZ’s oncology franchise, although other medicine areas within the company’s business also had modest gains.

In 2020, oncology growth was up by 23% to $11.45bn, with the top-selling product being AZ’s EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor Tagrisso (osimertinib).

AZ also reported significant sales growth for checkpoint inhibitor Imfinzi (durvalumab) and PARP inhibitor Lynparza (olaparib).

Elsewhere, the company’s new cardiovascular, renal and metabolism (CVRM) sales were up by 7% in 2020, bringing in a total of $4.7bn.

That growth was led by an increase in revenue for AZ’s heart failure treatment Farxiga (dapagliflozin), which saw a 27% increase in 2020 to $1.96bn.

However, AZ did report that the pandemic had a significant impact on certain medicines, including sales of asthma/COPD treatment Pulmicort (budesonide) in China and some decreased use of infused/injectable medicines such as Imfinzi and monoclonal antibody Fasenra (benralizumab).

Looking ahead to 2021, AZ is expecting total revenue to increase by a percentage in the low teens, with a forecasted increase in core earnings per share (EPS) to $4.75-$5.00.

AZ added that this guidance does not include any revenue or profit from sales of its Oxford University-partnered COVID-19 vaccine, with sales of the jab to be reported separately from the next quarter.

It also excludes AZ’s proposed major acquisition of Alexion. AZ entered into a definitive agreement to purchase Alexion for $39bn in December 2020, in a bid to bolster and diversify AZ's drug portfolio with rare disease assets, and the acquisition is expected to close in Q3 2021.

“The performance last year marked a significant step forward for AstraZeneca. Despite the significant impact from the pandemic, we delivered double-digit revenue growth to leverage improved profitability and cash generation,” said Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer of AZ.

“The consistent achievements in the pipeline, the accelerating performance of our business and the progress of the COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated what we can achieve, while the proposed acquisition of Alexion is intended to accelerate our scientific and commercial evolution even further,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

11th February 2021

From: Sales

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