After posting a reasonable set of financials this morning, AstraZeneca has upped its full-year guidance and will be paying out more to shareholders.
The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker says core operating profit for the second quarter fell 2% to $2.97 billion. Revenues were up 3% to $8.43 billion, helped by the weak dollar.
Turnover growth was driven again by Crestor (rosuvastatin), and sales of the cholesterol drug increased 20% to $1.71 billion. Other big earners were the asthma combo Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol), which rose 21% to $802 million, while the antipsychotic Seroquel (quetiapine) climbed 10% to $1.15 billion; that franchise was boosted by the performance of Seroquel XR (up 28% to $387 million).
Sales for Toprol XL/Seloken (metoprolol) were down 27% to $232 million, hit by generic competition, while revenues for the antiulcerant blockbuster Nexium (esomeprazole) fell 12% to $1.11 billion. Losec/Prilosec (omeprazole) brought in $239 million, down 8%.
As for oncology sales, Arimidex (anastrozole) fell 59% to $181 million, battered by patent expiries, while Casodex (bicalutamide) fell 9% to $138 million. Zoladex (goserelin) brought in $302 million (+8%), while Iressa (gefitinib) climbed 49% to $139 million.
AstraZeneca noted that net proceeds from the pending $1.8 billion sale of Astra Tech to Dentsply will be used to expand its share repurchase programme to $5 billion (up from $4 billon). It has raised its core earnings per share target for the full year to $7.05-$7.35 from $6.95-$7.25 and will also pay an interim dividend of $0.85, up from $0.70 a year ago.
Chief executive David Brennan said that "despite the anticipated impact of generic competition and government pricing interventions in the quarter, we are able to raise our core EPS guidance and increase our shareholder cash return targets for the full year". He also made reference to the recent US approval of the bloodthinner Brilinta (ticagrelor), which should boost sales at this tricky time.