Wednesday 29 April 2020 8:14 am

Astrazeneca retains guidance after strong first quarter performance

Pharmaceuticals giant Astrazeneca reported strong revenue and profit growth for the first quarter of 2019 amid the coronavirus disruption.

The Anglo-Swedish company beat analyst expectations and maintained its sales and earning guidance for the whole year.

Read more: Astrazeneca to trial diabetes drug as potential coronavirus treatment

Shares in the firm rose over one per cent as markets opened.

The figures

Revenue increased 16 per cent in the first quarter, rising to $6.4bn (£5.1bn) from $5.5bn last year.

Profit after tax gew by a third to $750m, ahead of $563m in the same period in 2019.

Despite an increase in the number of shares, earnings per share also increased 27 per cent to $0.59.

Much of the growth was driven by the firm’s oncology division, where new drugs Tagrisso, Imfinzi and Lynparza registering year on year growth of 56 per cent, 57 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.

Why it’s interesting

Along with other pharmaceuticals firms such as GSK, Astrazeneca has been heavily involved in efforts to combat the coronavirus crisis.

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Working in collaboration with its rival, it has been aiding the government with its much-publicised 100,000 tests a day target by developing a dedicated site in Cambridge.

The firm is also working on finding solutions to find treatments for the disease, including suppressing the body’s overzealous immune response and protecting vital organs.

Astrazeneca is assessing the effectiveness of leukaemia drug Calquence in suppressing an extreme immune reaction called a kytocine storm, an inflammation of the lungs which has affected many coronavirus patients.

What Astrazeneca said

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said: “Our focus ensured another quarter of strong growth across every therapy area and region. 

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“The new medicines performed extremely well, and our pipeline continued to deliver. The progress made on all fronts provides confidence that we will, once again, meet our full-year commitments.

I could not be prouder of how the Astrazeneca team has responded to the challenges of Covid-19. We hope our efforts to protect organs from damage, mitigate the cytokine storm and the associated hyperinflammatory state, and target the virus prove to be successful.”