AstraZeneca Warns Of Tough Year Ahead


Salon Staff
February 2, 2012 3:09PM (UTC)

LONDON (AP) — Drug maker AstraZeneca PLC warned of a tough year ahead as it reported a 24 percent increase in 2011 profits.

The Anglo-Swedish company said Thursday its full-year profit was $10 billion, up from $8.1 billion a year earlier. The profit advance was helped heavily by a $1.5 billion gain from the sale of its dental subsidiary, Astra Tech.

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The company said revenue this year will be hit by government interventions on prices, generic competition and the loss of exclusivity for Seroquel IR, a drug for the treatment of depression, and hypertension drug Atacand in global markets.

AstraZeneca shares opened 2 percent lower in London.

A more detailed look at the earnings shows that generics cut revenue by $2 billion in 2011 while price interventions cost another $1 billion.

Despite its concerns over the year ahead, AstraZeneca raised its full-year dividend by 10 percent to $2.80 a share10 percent, and announced a $4.5 billion share buyback program.

The company reported double-digit sales gains for cholesterol drug Crestor, Symbicort for asthma and Seroquel XR.

U.S. revenues were up 5 percent despite the negative impact of health care reform, while revenue in the rest of the world was down 3 percent, including a 15 percent slide in Europe.

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"The results contained a boost from the announcement of a new restructuring program involving some 7,300 positions," said Savvas Neophytou, analyst at Panmure Gordon.

AstraZeneca said it would shortly begin consultations with affected employees.


Salon Staff

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