Job cuts at AstraZeneca despite rising profits

Anglo-Swedish drugs giant AstraZeneca said on Thursday that annual net profit soared by almost one third as it outlined plans to cut 3,000 jobs worldwide.

Net profits leapt 28.3 percent to $6.063 billion in 2006 compared with the previous financial year, the pharmaceuticals company said in an official earnings release.

Shares in the company jumped 2.64 percent to 2,915 pence in mid-afternoon trade as investors cheered a higher-than-expected 4.0-billion-dollar share buyback programme and moves to slash the workforce over the next three years.

Meanwhile London’s FTSE 100 index of leading shares, on which AstraZeneca is traded, was showing a gain of 1.32 percent at 6,284.80 points.

Annual sales advanced 10.54 percent to 26.475 billion dollars compared with the previous year, buoyed by a strong performance from the group’s five top-selling drugs and cost cutting.