ASTRAZENECA ended an interesting year in a downbeat manner as fourth quarter results revealed the company sustained a loss during the three months ending 31 December.
Last year saw the UK’s second largest pharmaceutical company successfully fend off a £69bn takeover bid by US drugs giant Pfizer and get approval for a record six new products.
However, the company faced pressure from increased competition from cheaper generic copies of its older drugs which hit sales and profits, a situation the company admitted was likely to continue for the duration of 2015 before any newer products hit the shelves.
Revenue for the fourth quarter came in at $6.8bn, a two per cent decrease in actual terms on the same period in 2013.
Overall revenue for the year increased one per cent to $26bn. Profit before tax saw a sharp decline of 43 per cent for the fourth quarter compared to the previous year, to come in at a loss of $580m, leading earnings per share to decline by 38 per cent to record a small loss of 0.25 per cent.
Despite this, the board reaffirmed its commitment to the company’s dividend policy, declaring a second interim dividend of $1.90 per share, bringing the total dividend to $2.80.
Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer, described 2014 as a remarkable year, adding: “We achieved a record six product approvals as we accelerated our pipeline across all main therapy areas, with growth platforms now contributing over half of our revenues.
Shares ended down 3.4 per cent.