AstraZeneca to repurchase $4bn of stock

Julian Harris
Follow Julian
ASTRAZENECA beat forecasts for the fourth quarter yesterday, reporting a two per cent rise in pre-tax profits for 2010, up to $10.98bn (£6.89bn) from $10.8bn in 2009.

The UK’s second largest drug-maker saw earnings buoyed by strong sales in key products such as Crestor, an anti-cholesterol treatment.

And the report cheered investors with a promise to double its share buyback programme to $4bn.

“Despite government pricing pressures and anticipated patent expiries in the US and western Europe, our revenues remained in line with the previous year,” said chief executive David Brennan.

The performance was attributed to brands and continued growth in emerging markets. Sales in emerging markets exceeded $5bn for the first time, the drug firm added.

The company’s final year results set a target for core earnings per share between the range of $6.45 to $6.75.

Earnings per share for the fourth quarter reached $1.39, above consensus forecasts of $1.35, as sales for the three months to December hit $8.617bn, above consensus forecasts of $8.385bn.