AstraZeneca Q2 profit jumps on drug sales

AstraZeneca Q2 profit jumps on drug sales
AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan
Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said on Thursday that second-quarter net profit jumped to $2.1 billion (15.35 billion kronor) on strong performance across emerging markets and key drug sales.

AstraZeneca said profit after tax rose 23 percent to $2.11 billion in the three months to the end of June compared with the equivalent figure in 2009, causing it to lift its full-year profits forecast.

Analysts had estimated net profits at a lower level of $1.94 billion for the second quarter, according to Dow Jones Newswires. Group sales grew one percent to $8.18 billion in the quarter, boosted by sales of cholesterol drug Crestor, anti-psychotic drug Seroquel and asthma treatment Symbicort.

“Our second-quarter performance reflects continued strong growth in our emerging markets and good performance for key brands,” CEO David Brennan said in the group’s earnings statement.

Britain’s second-biggest drugmaker, which reports in dollars, increased its full-year earnings per share target to a range of $6.35 to $6.65. It is the second time in three months that it has raised the core target.

AstraZeneca faces a steep drop in sales over coming years. Seven of its drugs, including three bestsellers, face generic competition by 2014 — a higher ratio than major European competitors.

However, the group won a major boost on Wednesday when a US Food and Drug Administration panel backed the use of ticagrelor, a proposed anti-clotting drug developed by AstraZeneca, despite concerns the product might not work in US patients.

Also on Thursday, the company increased its target for net share repurchases for 2010 to $2 billion, double an initial target.

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