AstraZeneca is expecting a return to sales growth in 2018 as new medicines win market share


Revenue last year was boosted by a bumper haul of “externalization” deals, involving asset sales and collaborations with other companies, which some analysts have criticised for flattering results.

Such deals contributed $2.3 billion in 2017 out of total revenue of $22.5 billion, but AstraZeneca said they had peaked and would decline in 2018.

AstraZeneca has had some notable new product successes recently, with oncology pills Tagrisso and Lynparza both doing well and progress in other areas, including novel treatments for lung disorders.

Its heart drug Brilinta and Farxiga for diabetes have also both just breached the $1 billion annual sales mark, while its business in China is outgrowing rivals and Soriot said he expected continued growth above 20 percent.

AstraZeneca also announced two new deals with Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent on Friday, designed to optimize drug use and fight counterfeit medicines.

Still, the pace of its turnaround remains uncertain pending further clinical trial read-outs in the multibillion-dollar cancer immunotherapy market, where AstraZeneca’s Imfinzi is going head to head with rival drugs from Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Roche.

“The very successful launch in the coming months of Imfinzi in lung cancer is crucial if AstraZeneca is going to make up lost ground,” said Trinity Delta analyst Mick Cooper.

AstraZeneca suffered the biggest ever daily fall in its shares last July, following disappointing initial results from a lung cancer trial dubbed Mystic. Since then the shares have rallied, helped by good news from two other studies.

Further data from the Mystic trial is due in the first half of this year.

Fourth-quarter core EPS, which excludes some items, increased 7 percent to $1.30 cents on revenue of $5.78 billion, helped by one-off tax gains. Analysts, on average, had forecast earnings of 84 cents on revenue of $5.46 billion.

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