Shares in pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (AZN) gained 3.5% to £76.54 on Friday after the company reported first quarter revenue growth of 15% to $7.32 billion and a 55% increase in core earnings per share to $1.63, beating market expectations.

The company reiterated full year guidance for revenues to grow by a low teen’s percentage and for core earnings per share to reach between $4.75 and $5.

Guidance doesn’t include any contribution from selling Covid-19 vaccines or the proposed acquisition of rare diseases company Alexion Pharmaceuticals which is expected to close in the third quarter.

Total revenues from selling its Covid-19 vaccine were $275 million in the quarter compared with $2 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.

NEW MEDICINES DRIVE GROWTH

Growth in new medicines was a standout performer with revenues growing 30% to $3.89 billion, which included 33% growth in emerging markets.

New medicines now contribute 53% of revenues, up from 47% in the first quarter of 2020.

The cancer franchise achieved growth of 20% to $3.1 billion led by 37% growth in Ovarian and Breast cancer drug Lynparza.

The cardiovascular, renal and metabolism franchise achieved revenues growth of 19% to $1.31 billion led by strong growth of 54% in cardiovascular drug Farxiga.

The respiratory and immunology franchise saw revenues decline by 1% to $1.55 billion reflecting the impact of a generic version of Symbicort in the US.

Shore Capital highlighted the strength of AstraZeneca’s ‘extensive’ pipeline as a driver of long-term growth, but noted that, ‘relative to consensus expectations the performance of key assets in Q1 was slightly weaker than expected.’

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Issue Date: 30 Apr 2021