AstraZeneca plc (LON: AZN) said on Friday that its sales and earnings posted an increase in the first quarter and reiterated its guidance for the full financial year. The pharmaceutical firm also expressed confidence that the impact of COVID-19 was likely to tone down in the second half.
AstraZeneca shares opened about 1.5% up in the stock market on Friday and gained another 2.5% in the next hour. Including the price action, the London-listed company is now exchanging hands at £76.63 per share. In comparison, AstraZeneca plc had started the year 2021 at a slightly lower £74.22 per share.
AstraZeneca reports £5.26 billion of sales
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AstraZeneca reported £1.12 billion of net profit in the first quarter versus the year-ago figure of £560.70 million. Operating profit, the British-Swedish multinational added, printed at £1.37 billion, compared to a much lower £880 million last year.
The Cambridge-based company valued its sales in Q1 at £5.26 billion. In the same quarter last year, its sales were capped at £4.56 billion. In the prior quarter (Q4), AstraZeneca’s revenue climbed by 11%.
On a per-share basis, AstraZeneca’s earnings jumped to 85 pence in the recent quarter from 42.41 pence. The development of its COVID-19 vaccine, as per the pharmaceutical company, affected its quarterly per-share earnings by £0.02.
AstraZeneca will seek U.S. FDA approval for its Coronavirus vaccine in the coming weeks. Its lung cancer drug, Tagrisso, was the key driver of growth in Q1, generated £830 million of revenue – a 17% annualised increase. Revenue from Imfinzi (monoclonal antibody) came in at £399.68 million, or 20% higher than last year.
In separate news, Hikma Pharmaceuticals received U.S. approval for Kloxxado (opioid overdose treatment) on Friday.
AstraZeneca’s guidance for the full financial year
At constant exchange rates, AstraZeneca forecasts close to 13% growth in total revenue this year, and £3.59 of core earnings per share. The guidance, as per AstraZeneca, doesn’t account for the proposed Alexion Pharmaceuticals acquisition and sales of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a note, Citigroup analysts said on Friday:
“Despite the intense operational and political challenges created by AZN’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, the core business continues to perform above market expectations in a most challenging quarter, demonstrating strength across therapeutic areas and geographies.”
At the time of writing, AstraZeneca plc has a market cap of just over £100 billion and a price to earnings ratio of 43.81.