Thursday 11 February 2021 8:11 am

AstraZeneca gets vaccine boost as sales jump to nearly $26bn

Product sales at AstraZeneca jumped 10 per cent in 2020, up to nearly $26bn, in a year that made the at pharmaceutical company a household name.

Total revenue at the business stood at $2.6bn, up nine per cent from 2019. Globally, new medicines represented 52 per cent of total revenue for the year.

AstraZeneca’s share price jumped more than one per cent this morning following the publication of its results.

Last year saw AstraZeneca team up with the University of Oxford to produce a coronavirus vaccine, which is now being distributed around the world.

Today’s full year results however do not include any revenue or profit impacted by the sales of the Covid-19 vaccine. The company intends to report those separately from the next quarter.

CEO Pascal Soriot said: “The performance last year marked a significant step forward for AstraZeneca. Despite the significant impact from the pandemic, we delivered double-digit revenue growth to leverage improved profitability and cash generation.

“The consistent achievements in the pipeline, the accelerating performance of our business and the progress of the COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated what we can achieve, while the proposed acquisition of Alexion is intended to accelerate our scientific and commercial evolution even further.”

No good deed goes unpunished

Sebastial Skeet, a senior analyst at Third Bridge said: “On a human level AstraZeneca’s vaccine saga has been disappointing; the clash with the EU, new data demonstrating a lack of efficacy in preventing mild to moderate infection caused by the South African variant, and the decision by German authorities to limit vaccinations in persons under 65 years old. Ultimately, this does represent a share price overhang too.

“However, the opposite can be said for AstraZeneca’s core business. The company is arguably the poster child for big pharma turnarounds, with with CEO Pascal Soriot rebuilding the pipeline and establishing the necessary growth drivers. This is exemplified by AstraZeneca’s recent performance, which demonstrated double digit revenue growth, improved profitability and core EPS growth of 18% at constant exchange rates.”

Skeet said AstraZeneca’s oncology portfolio was one of its “crown jewels”, growing 23 per cent year-on-year.

CMC Markets UK chief market analyst Michael Hewson said the pharmaceutical company’s share price had been “underwhelming” in 2020, largely because it, along with the University of Oxford, is producing the vaccine at cost – a move that has not been replicated to the same extent by its peers in the industry.

“In terms of PR, it probably seemed like a smart move at the time, however given the flak it has received over the slightly slower rollout to production of the vaccine in the European Union, they would probably be forgiven for thinking that no good deed goes unpunished,” he added.

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