AstraZeneca Tops Earnings Forecasts as Sales Fall

by Christopher Freeburn | July 26, 2012 11:25 am

British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN[1]) announced that it earned $1.61 billion during the second quarter[2], down 24% from $2.11 billion in the same period last year.

The drug maker said that revenue for the quarter dropped to $6.66 billion, down 21% from $8.43 billion in 2011.

The results provided mixed news for Wall Street, which had predicted $1.45 billion in earnings on sales of $6.86 billion, Dow Jones noted.

The drug-maker reiterated its previous earnings guidance of between $5.85 and $6.15 a share for the year.

Having spent $1.85 billion on share repurchases since January, the company said it planned to buy back a total $4.5 billion of shares this year. It also indicated that its first interim dividend will be 90 cents a share, far less than last year’s dividend of $2.80 a share.

Company officials noted that the expiration of its patents for three popular drugs had cut earnings by 15% as competitors rushed generic versions to market.

Revenue in the U.S. dropped 29%, while Western Europe fell 20% and worldwide revenues dipped 12%. Sales in emerging markets edged up just 1% during the quarter and the company does not anticipate significant growth in those markets for the remainder of the year.

AstraZeneca continues to search for a permanent CEO, following the departure of David Brennan in June[3]. CFO Simon Lowth is serving as interim CEO while the company considers candidates for the top position.

Shares of AstraZeneca rose fractionally in Thursday morning trading in New York.

  1. AZN:
  2. during the second quarter:
  3. following the departure of David Brennan in June:

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