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AstraZeneca reports bumper revenue in Q1 2024 on strong drug demand

In this Saturday, July 18, 2020 file photo a general view of AstraZeneca offices and the corporate logo in Cambridge, England.
In this Saturday, July 18, 2020 file photo a general view of AstraZeneca offices and the corporate logo in Cambridge, England. Copyright Alastair Grant/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Alastair Grant/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
By Indrabati Lahiri
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AstraZeneca continued to see strong earnings boosted primarily by its oncology branch, as well as its respiratory and immunology segment.

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Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca reported its first quarter 2024 earnings on Thursday, seeing extremely robust earnings per share (EPS) and revenue growth. This was mainly due to continuously growing partner drug sales, as well as increasing demand for the company’s best-selling medicines.

Total revenue soared 19% to $12,679 million (€11,818.1 million) year-on-year, primarily boosted by an 18% growth in product sales. Total revenue for oncology jumped 26%, with respiratory and immunology revenue rising 17% and cardiovascular, renal and metabolism revenue inching up 23%. Rare disease revenue advanced 16%.

Core operating margin clocked in at 34%, whereas the core earnings per share rose 13%, coming in at $2.06. Core Product Sales gross margin was 82% for the first quarter of the year. The company also revealed that it would be upping its dividend payments by $0.20 per share, bringing total dividends to $3.10 per share.

AstraZeneca also reiterated its previous core EPS guidance for the financial year 2024, estimating it to rise somewhere between the low double digits and low teens percentage. This is also expected to be the guidance for total revenue for this year.

Pascal Soriot, the chief executive officer (CEO) of AstraZeneca said in its earnings release. “Our strong pipeline momentum continued and already this year, we announced positive trial results for Imfinzi and Tagrisso that were unprecedented in lung cancer, the data from both of these studies will be presented during the ASCO plenary in June.

“We are also looking forward to seeing the results of several other important trials throughout the year. At our Annual General meeting, we were pleased to announce a 7% increase in the annual dividend, and at our Investor Day on 21 May 2024, we will outline the evolution of our company, underscoring our confidence in sustaining industry-leading growth.”

Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Interactive Investor said, in an email note, “UK stock market giant AstraZeneca has today reported a strong start to the new financial year.

Drug development is an expensive business and sales of Covid related products are in decline. Acquisitions such as its recent $2.4 billion purchase of Canadian cancer specialist Fusion are also not without risk, while GSK shares currently offer a forecast dividend yield of around 3.7% compared with Astra’s 2.2%.

“On the upside, cancer treatment sales remain buoyant, generating two-fifths of overall revenues in this latest quarter. Astra continues to win new drug approvals, sales on a geographical basis are diverse, including growing sales in China, while takeovers such as its 2021 purchase of rare disease focused Alexion have expanded its diversity of drug treatments.

“For now, and with favourable long-term sales and earnings momentum, consensus analyst opinion continues to point towards a ‘buy’”.

AstraZeneca has also recently warned of Europe lagging behind the US and China, when it comes to investments in pharmaceutical innovation.

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