AstraZeneca’s New Medicines Buoy Second-Quarter Results

(Bloomberg) -- AstraZeneca Plc’s newer products are giving the company a lift, helping profit beat estimates in the second quarter.

Drugs for cancer, heart disease and asthma that the company has brought to market over the past few years buoyed sales and made up for a slump in aging treatments such as Crestor and Symbicort. Adjusted earnings were 69 cents a share, the Cambridge, England-based company said in a statement Thursday, compared with the 61 cents analysts had forecast. The stock rose as much as 3.1 percent in London trading.

Astra is trimming costs and pushing a series of new products including Lynparza for breast cancer and Imfinzi for lung cancer that are intended to sustain earnings for years to come. Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot has also been selling off some rights to medicines, such as the schizophrenia treatment Seroquel, to bolster the company’s bottom line and support new research.

The drugmaker’s “rich pipeline and sharp commercial focus make us confident that we have in place the right conditions for our return to growth this year,” Soriot said in the statement.

Cost Cuts

Astra shares rose to the highest intraday level since the company was created by the merger of Sweden’s Astra AB and the U.K.’s Zeneca Group Plc in 1999. They climbed 1.8 percent to 5,62 pence at 8:15 a.m. in London.
Tagrisso, a drug that targets a genetic mutation in some lung tumors, along with Lynparza and Imfinzi all beat analysts’ projections for quarterly sales. Fasenra, Astra’s new biologic respiratory drug, sold $65 million in the quarter, compared with analysts’ estimate of $34 million.

The company also pointed to cost cuts in research and development and increased investment in China, one of its main targets for marketing drugs such as Tagrisso. Astra said it cut costs for restructuring and capital expenditures, and expects them to continue declining for the year.

Revenue rose 2 percent to $5.15 billion, in line with analysts’ estimates. The company said it expects an improved performance in the second half and product sales will probably rise by a low single-digit percentage this year at constant currencies, confirming an earlier forecast.

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