At first glance, pharma giant AstraZeneca’s (AZN) third quarter looks poor with a 29% drop in core operating profit to $1.31bn, but this is still better than expected.

Shares in the company receive a 1.7% boost to £59.59.

Shore Capital analyst Adam Barker says consensus had forecast $1.22m for operating profit. AstraZeneca also beat anticipated sales by 1.2% at $5.3bn.

‘Having successfully navigated a number of clinical readouts and entered the commercialisation stage, we are supportive of AstraZeneca investing to ensure the success of its product launches,’ comments Barker.

AstraZeneca has officially returned to sales growth with product sales increasing 4% to $15.2bn in the year-to-date, although this is later than its initial target for the end of 2017.


Strong product sales growth is being driven by new medicines. In AstraZeneca’s biggest region, emerging markets, the company enjoyed 13% growth in the year-to-date to $5.1bn.

Oncology remained a star performer with sales, including drugs Lynparza, Tagrisso and Imfinzi, soaring 56% in the third quarter to $1.6bn.

In China and the US, oncology revenues jumped 32% and 25%, respectively.

Core research and development costs this year are forecast to decline by a low-single digit percentage.

It appears AstraZeneca’s productivity savings and improved development processes are helping to keep a lid on costs.

Issue Date: 08 Nov 2018