AstraZeneca Cancer Drug Sales Fuel Profit Beating Estimates

(Bloomberg) -- AstraZeneca Plc’s sales of cancer drugs surged in the most recent quarter, helping drive profit and revenue beyond analysts’ expectations.

The results from new therapies like Tagrisso, now AstraZeneca’s top-selling product, helped the U.K. company continue a positive earnings trend from big drugmakers. Novartis SA raised its 2019 guidance earlier this week, while Sanofi also beat estimates amid industrywide pricing headwinds.

Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot is looking to make AstraZeneca into a powerhouse in cancer, restructuring the company’s research and development division to put greater emphasis on the oncology market. Not content with sales engines like Lynparza and Tagrisso, the CEO signed an agreement worth as much as $6.9 billion to co-develop a new breast cancer therapy with Daiichi Sankyo Co.

The company’s roster of candidate drugs is among the most mature in the industry, with 17 percent of its compounds in the final stage of development, said Ed Corbett, a partner at Novasecta Ltd., a London-based consulting firm.

“They’ve got a whole raft of approvals in the pipeline,” he said in a telephone interview. “Their transition from big pharma to big biotech is happening.”

Earnings excluding some items were 89 cents a share, the company said in a statement, beating analysts’ estimate of 84 cents. Sales of oncology drugs, which include Lynparza and Tagrisso, rose 54 percent, adding to overall revenue that rose to $5.49 billion.

Astra rose as much as 2.5 percent in London, while Sanofi gained as much as 3.2 percent in Paris.

Soriot is also betting heavily for increased returns from emerging markets, especially China, which has made itself more receptive to new drugs after revamping its regulatory system. Sales from the country rose 21 percent.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.