AstraZeneca lifted by blockbuster oncology drug sales

  • AstraZeneca’s total sales rose to £10.2bn in the first three months of 2024
  • Revenue from its oncology medicines increased by almost $1bn to $5.1bn

AstraZeneca sales and earnings surpassed expectations in the opening quarter following bumper demand for its blockbuster onocology drugs.

The pharmaceutical giant saw total turnover climb by $1.8billion at constant exchange rates to $12.7billion (£10.2billion) in the opening three months of 2024, compared to analyst estimates of $11.8billion.

Revenue from oncology medicines soared by almost $1billion to $5.1billion, due to double-digit percentage growth in key medicines, including lung cancer treatments Tagrisso and Imfinzi.

Good result: AstraZeneca reported total turnover climbed by $1.8billion at constant exchange rates to $12.7billion (£10.2billion) in the opening three months of 2024

Both drugs were recently the subject of successful trials, the results of which AstraZeneca intends to release at a plenary in June.

At the same time, sales of its cardiovascular, renal and metabolism drugs jumped by about $500million to over $3billion amid solid demand for type 2 diabetes drug Farxiga.

An authorised generic of Farxiga, the firm’s highest-selling medicine, was recently launched in the United States.

The strong sales performance helped AstraZeneca’s core earnings per share hit $2.06, a 12 per cent increase on the same time last year and above forecasts of $1.94 per share.

Following the result, the London-based company has upheld its annual guidance for turnover and core EPS to expand by a low double-digit to low-teens percentage.

AstraZeneca shares were 5.9 per cent up at £120.20 by lunchtime on Wednesday, making them one of the FTSE 100 Index’s top risers.

The group’s latest trading update comes a fortnight after it unveiled a 7 per cent hike in its annual dividend to $3.10 per share.

However, the business suffered a revolt over the compensation package of its chief executive Pascal Soriot, with a third of shareholders voting against a deal that would give the French-born boss up to £18.7million this year.

Soriot will receive a £1.5million base salary, plus a bonus and performance-related share awards, taking his total earnings since becoming AstraZeneca’s CEO in 2012 to £153million.

During his tenure, AstraZeneca’s market value has more than tripled to £186.7billion from building a blockbuster cancer drugs pipeline, supported by high investment levels and strategic acquisitions.

Just this year, the firm has agreed to acquire Fusion Pharmaceuticals and Amolyt Pharma and completed the purchase of vaccine developer Icosovax and Chinese cancer therapy company Gracell.

Sheena Berry, a healthcare analyst at Quilter Cheviot, said AstraZeneca was ‘in a really good place just now, which allows it to remain focused on reinvesting in the business. It has a strong pipeline and solid potential for positive updates.’