AstraZeneca sees 2007 profits sag

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said on Thursday that net profit fell 7.2 percent last year to $5.63 billion (€3.79 billion), owing partly to a major restructuring.

Revenue climbed 11.6 percent to 29.56 billion dollars, the company said in a results statement.

Faced with soaring costs, AstraZeneca unveiled plans last year to slash 7,600 jobs by 2010. The group is also facing increased competition from generic drugs.

Pre-tax profits slid 6.5 percent to $7.98 billion, slightly above market expectations for $7.89 billion.

“I am confident that we are taking the right steps to better position AstraZeneca as we, and the industry, encounter increasingly challenging market conditions,” chief executive David Brennan said in the earnings release.

In the fourth quarter alone, AstraZeneca said net profit tumbled 11.8 percent from a year earlier to $1.28 billion.

The group booked restructuring costs of $362 million in the last quarter of 2007, which was slightly more than predicted and contributed to the fall in profits.

AstraZeneca’s major products put in a mixed performance in 2007.

Sales of heartburn treatment Nexium fell 2.0 percent to $5.22 billion but Seroquel, AstraZeneca’s schizophrenia treatment, fared better, with sales rising 15 percent to $4.03 billion.

Cholesterol treatment Crestor saw its sales rocket by a third to $2.80


Profits were also hit by the cost of AstraZeneca’s acquisition of US biotechnology company MedImmune for $15.6 billion last year.