AstraZeneca promises things will change with pipeline delivery in the second half of 2017

Oliver Gill
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Analysts said AstraZeneca has one of the strongest pipelines in the pharmaceutical industry (Source: Getty)

AstraZeneca said it will turn a corner in the second half of 2017 after facing plummeting revenues as drug patents lapse.

The firm today reported a 12 per cent drop in first quarter revenues to $5.4bn, driven by the "residual impact" of the expiration of its exclusivity on statin drug Crestor.

"The total revenue performance reflected the transitional impact of recent patent expiries, which is expected to recede in the second half of the year," said AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot.

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Nevertheless, the firm is banking on the success of trials of cancer medication it hopes to ring to the market.

Soriot added: "Importantly, we anticipate the significant progress of the pipeline to continue, including our Immuno-Oncology and targeted treatments. We will also maintain our commitment to drive efficiency across the company to support our efforts to bring new medicines to patients."

The top-line malaise filtered through to operating profit, which was down 12 per cent in the first three months of 2017 to $917m. Reporting earnings per share fell 17 per cent to 42 cents.

Shares in the FTSE 100 firm were broadly flat in trading, currently down 0.31 per cent.

Knut Slatten, vice president and pharmaceutical analyst at Moody’s said:

“Ongoing generic competition on key products during the first quarter eroded AstraZeneca’s revenues and profits leaving the A3 rated company weakly positioned in its rating category. However, moving through 2017, we expect the company to return to growth again as generic pressure abates.

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“AstraZeneca still has one of the strongest pipelines in the pharmaceutical industry, however, data readouts in its oncology franchise this year will determine how much its operating performance recovers in 2018 and beyond.

“We have previously said that AstraZeneca has very limited room for debt-financed acquisitions."

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