AstraZeneca shares fall as it warns of COVID vaccine sales slump

·2 min read
AstraZeneca's revenue jumped 60% to $11.4bn, boosted by its COVID vaccine and Alexion deal. Photo: Nikos Pekiaridis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
AstraZeneca's revenue jumped 60% to $11.4bn, boosted by its COVID vaccine and Alexion deal. Photo: Nikos Pekiaridis/SOPA/LightRocket via Getty

Shares in AstraZeneca (AZN.L) slipped after the company announced it expects revenue from its COVID-19 medicines to fall by a fifth this year as demand wanes for its Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) firm said declining sales of its jab would be partially offset by Evusheld, a COVID treatment that was approved for use in the UK in March for patients with poor immune responses.

The vaccine recorded $1.15bn (£920m) in sales in the first quarter, up fourfold compared to the same period 12 months ago, while the antibody treatment brought in $469m. Sales in Europe were down 40%.

Revenue at the company soared 60% to $11.4bn, beating analyst consensus of $10.9bn, bolstered by its COVID vaccine and $1.7bn of sales of the drugs it got as part of its $39bn Alexion deal.

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Core earnings per share were $1.89 — higher than the average forecast for $1.70 and up 20% year-on-year. The pharmaceutical firm expects total revenue to increase by a high teens percentage and core earnings per share to rise by a mid-to-high twenties percentage.

The Anglo-Swedish drugs giant confirmed its full-year forecasts as it pins its hopes on newer therapies for kidney disease and rare conditions.

AstraZeneca shares fell 1.1% following the update in early trade on Friday in London.

Many of the initial contracts for Vaxzevria, the COVID vaccine AstraZeneca developed with Oxford university, are expected to complete in the second quarter.

AstraZeneca’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot hailed a strong start to the quarter.

"2022 has started strongly for AstraZeneca," he said in a statement on Friday. "Our investments in pioneering science give us confidence of further advances in the years to come."

The CEO also unveiled plans for a new research and development centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts to be completed in 2026. It will have 1,500 staff and serve as Alexion’s new headquarters.

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Soriot added: Today’s announcement is a milestone moment following the acquisition of Alexion in July 2021.

"Our combined company has already successfully leveraged internal scientific synergies, and this move will act as a catalyst for even more external collaboration and innovation.

"The move will provide access to some of the most innovative partners in academia and biotech, offering opportunities to accelerate our growth and collaborate with like-minded organisations as we continue to push the boundaries of science to deliver advances for patients."

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