Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca posted a 22% fall in annual profit after rising revenue was offset by an increase in selling and other administrative costs. Pre-tax profit for the year through December fell to $1.55bn, down from $1.99bn on-year. Revenue rose 10% to $24.4bn, though operating profit fell 14% to $2.92bn. AstraZeneca said its 'core' operating profit, which excludes certain expenses, rose 13% to $6.44bn. The company held its annual dividend steady at $2.80 per share. Looking ahead, it said that depending on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, its revenue was expected to increase by a high single-digit to a low double-digit percentage in 2020. Core earnings per share were expected to increase by a mid- to high-teens percentage. In 2019, core EPS rose 1% to $3.50. 'In the first full year of our return to growth, we made good progress in line with our strategy,' chief executive Pascal Soriot said. Soriot said the company was becoming a better-balanced business, both regionally and through its medicines. 'This transition is a further step towards improving operating leverage and cash generation,' he said. 'As we accelerate our commitments to achieving our long-term climate-change and decarbonisation targets, we will maintain our focus on executing a strategy centred on science and patients.'
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