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AstraZeneca records 18% sales growth in Q3 of 2019 as impressive results continue

AstraZeneca has continued its impressive growth, with product sales up 18 per cent in the third quarter to $6,132million.

The biopharmaceutical company noted all three of its therapy areas and every sales region produced “encouraging performances”, and CEO Pascal Soriot hailed the results from its new medicines, which grew 64 per cent in the quarter on a constant exchange rate (CER) basis to $2,707m.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot. Picture: Keith Heppell
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot. Picture: Keith Heppell

These represent a further sign of the company’s resurgence, which has followed a significant shift in the company’s culture to improve its new medicines hit rate.

AstraZeneca upgraded its product sales guidance again as it announced year-to-date sales growth of 17 per cent on a CER basis to $17,315m. It now expects a low to mid-teens percentage growth in sales for the year, compared to the low double-digit percentage rise previously forecast.

Mr Soriot said: “With AstraZeneca growing at pace, our sales guidance has been upgraded for the second consecutive quarter.

“Another strong performance from our new medicines accompanied impressive results in our key markets, most notably in China, the US and Japan. The performance reinforces our confidence in delivering sustainable earnings growth.

“We delivered further positive news for patients. Lynparza demonstrated its potential as a treatment for prostate cancer and as an expanded treatment for ovarian cancer. Tagrisso, Imfinzi and PT010 also had positive data, and we delivered breakthrough data in heart failure for Farxiga.

“We are continuing to ensure that we capture the benefits of our growth by balancing reinvesting in our business, delivering on our sustainability commitments, continuing to improve our operating leverage and cash generation.”

There was strong sales growth in the US and Japan, and a continued return to growth in Europe, with a 4 per cent rise on a CER basis.

Sales in China - the world’s second largest pharma market - grew an impressive 40 per cent on a CER basis to $1,283m, ahead of longer-term trends.

But Mr Soriot warned sales growth in the country was set to slow due to changes in the way it bought medicines.

“We do expect substantial headwinds,” he said. “We will continue to grow but at a lower rate than we have been over the last three quarters.”

Oncology was the leading therapy area for AstraZeneca in the quarter, with sales up $2,334m (48 per cent at CER), while its new cardiovascular, renal and metabolism medicines sales rose 11 per cent at CER to $1,113m and respiratory medicines were up 18 per cent at CER to $1,319m.

Core earnings per share were $0.99.

Mr Soriot also responded to speculation that he was planning to step down by telling reporters: “Unless the board decides otherwise, I don’t intend to go anywhere.”

The company is due to move into its new global HQ and R&D centre on Cambridge Biomedical Campus next year.

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