AstraZeneca keeps schtum on Pfizer approach as profits plunge

Harriet Green
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The UK’s second-largest drugs firm has announced its quarterly earnings this morning, making no mention of the reported £60bn bid approach from US pharma giant Pfizer.

AstraZeneca said profit before tax fell 50 per cent to $638m (£380m) in the first quarter of 2014, from $1.3bn a year earlier, as it felt the loss of exclusivity on various products. Shares are currently up 0.6 per cent this morning.

Revenue increased three per cent to $6.5bn at constant exchange rates, slightly above analysts' expectations, with growth in the firm’s diabetes and respiratory businesses and its antiplatelet drug, which is usually prescribed after heart attacks, Brilinta. Emerging markets and Japan were also key growth platforms, with revenue in China jumping 22 per cent.

The company also said it’s made “significant progress” when it comes to treatments for lung and ovarian cancers.

AstraZeneca saw its shares jump eight per cent on Tuesday on the reports that US giant Pfizer is eyeing it up.

It maintains its guidance for this year, expecting a low-to-mid single digit percentage decline in revenue at current exchange rates. Earnings are expected to see a fall “in the teens” as generic competition could begin for its heartburn and ulcer drug, Nexium.