AstraZeneca weathers generic competition in Q2

AP News
Posted: Jul 28, 2011 7:05 AM
AstraZeneca weathers generic competition in Q2

Anglo-Swedish drug marker AstraZeneca PLC on Thursday reported more or less unchanged profits for the second quarter as it weathered a hit to sales revenue from generic competition.

AstraZeneca reported a net profit for the period of $2.11 billion, up 0.3 percent from a year earlier.

Revenue in the three months ending June 30 was $8.34 billion. That was 3 percent higher on a reported basis but 2 percent lower if exchange rates were considered to have remained unchanged.

The company said competition from generic drugs knocked about $500 million from its sales, with revenue from the cancer drug Arimidex down 62 percent and blood pressure drug Toprol-XL 29 percent lower.

AstraZeneca raised its full-year guidance by 10 cents per share, to a range of $7.05-$7.35, and boosted its share repurchase program by up to $1 billion to a new target of $5 billion this year.

AstraZeneca shares were down 0.1 percent at 2,998 pence ($49.02) in early afternoon trading on the London Stock Exchange. The stock is outperforming the wider FTSE 100 index of leading British shares though, which is languishing amid worries over whether the U.S. debt ceiling will be raised.

Although projected research and development costs are higher than expected, analysts at Shore Capital Stockbrokers said "it is worth highlighting that the better than expected execution on key products and the pricing power evident in Crestor are key positives."

AstraZeneca reported a 15 percent gain in sales for its cholesterol drug Crestor, the company's biggest seller. Sales were up 14 percent for asthma medication Symbicort and 11 percent for Seroquel for bipolar disorder.

U.S. revenue fell 3 percent, mainly because of generic competition; sales in Western Europe dropped by 9 percent while emerging market revenue was up 10 percent.

"Despite the anticipated impact of generic competition and government pricing interventions in the quarter, we are able to raise our core earnings per share guidance and increase our shareholder cash return targets for the full year," said CEO David Brennan.