AstraZeneca beats first-quarter profit estimates, retains 2020 forecast

(Reuters) – AstraZeneca (AZN.L) beat analysts’ estimates for first-quarter profit and reiterated its 2020 outlook on Wednesday, as demand for the drugmaker’s newer medicines held up and its supply chain proved resilient to the coronavirus-induced disruptions.

Newer treatments, including those for diabetes, heart conditions and cancer, have helped put the company’s business on track for its third consecutive year of growth, with a strong line-up in place for future sales.

Product sales for the three months ended March 31 rose 17% to $6.31 billion, on a constant-currency basis, beating analysts’ expectation of $5.89 billion.

The Cambridge-based drugmaker did not see any material disruptions to its supply chain in the period, it said, adding that its manufacturing sites in China, a key growth region, returned to full capacity within weeks of the outbreak being declared.

Revenue from China rose 17% to $1.42 billion, accounting for about 23% of total revenue.

AstraZeneca joined other big drugmakers in either maintaining or raising forecast for the year and the British drugmaker said its guidance assumes that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will last for several more months.

The company is testing two of its approved treatments as a therapy to help treat the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Governments, charities and drugmakers are rushing to develop a vaccine to end the fast-spreading virus outbreak that has so far infected over 3.1 million people and more than 210,000, according to a Reuters tally.

AstraZeneca’s core earnings rose 21% to $1.05 per share, while total revenue, which also includes payments from tie-ups, rose 17% to $6.35 billion from year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected core earnings of 94 cents per share, according to a company provided consensus of 22 analysts.

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