AstraZeneca on Thursday beat expectations for its first-quarter profit and revenue, helped by sales of its roster of drugs in emerging markets. The London-listed drugmaker, which reports its results in U.S. dollars, reported an adjusted profit of USD 1.92 per share on sales of about USD 10.9 billion.
Analysts on average were expecting USD 1.71 per share on sales of about USD 10.6 billion, according to company-compiled consensus estimates. AstraZeneca’s performance in emerging markets was particularly strong, CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement.
Excluding sales of its COVID-19 products, sales grew 22 per cent to USD 3.1 billion in emerging markets on a constant currency basis.
AstraZeneca is seen as a bellwether for the pharmaceutical sector in China, given its outsized presence in the region. In 2022, the country accounted for about 13 per cent of the company’s total revenue.
Sales in China were hurt by lower drug prices while its tough zero-COVID policy, which was abandoned in December, have kept some patients from being diagnosed and seeking care.
But sales started to pick up in the second half of 2022, and the company generated 8 per cent sales growth in the region on a constant currency basis in the first quarter of 2023.
The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker also stood by its 2023 forecast on Thursday.
AstraZeneca’s best-selling cancer drugs – Tagrisso, Imfinzi and Lynparza – generated USD 1.4 billion, USD 900 million and USD 651 million of sales, respectively, in the quarter.
Cowen analysts expected the three drugs to bring in about USD 1.45 billion, USD 735 million and USD 700 million respectively, in quarterly sales.
Other key medicines, such as the rare blood disorder drug Soliris and Ultomiris that came with AstraZeneca’s USD 39 billion acquisition in 2021 of Alexion, generated sales of USD 834 million and USD 651 million, well ahead Cowen estimates of USD 500 million and USD 400 million respectively.