AstraZeneca Q2 Profit Surges, Signs Gene Therapy Deal With Pfizer; Stock Up

Shares of AstraZeneca Plc were gaining around 4 percent in London trading as well as around 5 percent in pre-market activity on Nasdaq after the British drug major reported Friday significantly higher profit for its second quarter. Top line beat market estimates. Further, the company maintained its outlook for fiscal 2023, expecting growth.

In addition, AstraZeneca noted that its Rare Disease unit Alexion agreed with Pfizer Inc. to purchase and licence the assets of Pfizer’s early-stage rare disease gene therapy portfolio for up to $1 billion, plus tiered royalties on sales. Alexion plans to close the transaction in the third quarter, subject to the satisfaction of closing conditions.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, said, “Each of our non-COVID-19 therapy areas saw double-digit revenue growth, with eight medicines delivering more than $1bn of revenue in the first half, demonstrating the strength of our business. Several medicines grew rapidly including Ultomiris, Imfinzi/Imjudo and Farxiga, with revenues up 64 percent, 57 percent and 40 percent respectively…. Our pipeline momentum continues with eight positive pivotal trials for our Oncology medicines so far this year…”

For fiscal 2023, the company continues to expect core earnings per share to increase by a high single-digit to low double-digit percentage; total revenue to increase by a low-to-mid single-digit percentage; and revenues excluding COVID-19 medicines, to increase by a low double-digit percentage.

Further, the company has maintained an interim dividend at $0.93 per share or 71.8 pence, or 9.64 Swedish kronor, same as last year. The record date for the first interim dividend for 2023, payable on September 11, will be August 11.

For the year, total revenue from COVID-19 medicines, such as Vaxzevria and COVID-19 mAbs, is expected to decline significantly.

Total revenue from China is expected to return to growth and increase by a low-to-mid single-digit percentage in the full year, compared to previously expected low single-digit percentage growth

For the second quarter, AstraZeneca’s profit before tax was $2.09 billion, significantly higher than $247 million a year ago.

Net profit increased to $1.82 billion or $1.17 per share from $360 million or $0.23 per share in the previous year.

Excluding special items, core earnings pr share increased 25 percent to $2.15 per share.

On average, three analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.95 per share for the quarter. Analysts’ estimates typically exclude special items.

EBITDA climbed 97 percent to $3.73 billion.

Total revenue grew 6 percent to $11.42 billion from $10.77 billion last year. Revenue increased 9 percent at constant currency rates.

The Street expected revenues of $10.96 billion for the quarter.

Product sales were $10.88 billion, up 2 percent on a reported basis and up 5 percent at constant currency rates.

US sales grew 10 percent on a reported basis and at constant currency rates. The growth was 12 percent on a reported basis and 19 percent at constant currency rates in Emerging Markets.

Europe sales went up 6 percent on a reported and constant currency basis.

Excluding COVID-19 medicines, total second-quarter revenue increased 14 percent on a reported basis and 17 percent at constant currency rates.

In London, AstraZeneca shares were trading at 11,118 pence, up 3.91 percent.

In pre-market activity on Nasdaq, the shares were trading at $71.24, up 4.55 percent.

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