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New cancer drugs help upbeat AstraZeneca beat forecasts


By and Pushkala Aripaka

(Reuters) - forecast a second straight year of sales growth on Thursday, driven by cancer medicines and other new as the British drugmaker recovers from losing major patents.

AstraZeneca's push to turn around a slump in sales rides in large part on cancer treatments Imfinzi and Lynparza, as it looks to compete with Merck & Co's blockbuster Keytruda.

The drugmaker's fourth quarter earnings showed oncology drug sales rose 61 percent year-on-year to $1.78 billion, while sales of all products in China, which have more than doubled since 2012, also rose 22 percent to $948 million.

has suffered the industry's biggest loss of drug patents since 2012, wiping out more than half of its sales, but analysts now believe it is poised for one of the sector's fastest growth rates in the coming years.

Shares in AstraZeneca rose 2.7 percent to 5,875 pence in early trade as analysts welcomed the earnings.

"The story is very much one of transition from pipeline to commercial execution, and so 2018 was the first year back to product sales growth and they have delivered on that," Tara Raveendran, a analyst at Shore Capital, said.

The company was also the latest big to say that it had made extensive preparations for Brexit, adding it assumed that Britain's departure from the would be "orderly" even if it leaves without a deal with

The highly regulated sector is seen as one of the most vulnerable to a "no-deal" outcome due to its pan-European supply chains and need for regulatory oversight.

"2019 will prove difficult, with Brexit quickly approaching and the threat of a widening skills gap for industry," Julie Palmer, a partner at restructuring consultants said.

She added, however that if the company can continue the success of its latest then it will likely avoid any major impact.

Overall product sales in the three months ended Dec. 31 rose 8 percent to $5.77 billion at constant currency, helping return AstraZeneca to annual sales growth for the first time since 2014.

Analysts had forecast product sales of $5.66 billion, according to a company provided consensus.

The drugmaker said it expects a high single-digit percentage rise in product sales in 2019 and core earnings of $3.50 to $3.70 per share.

(Reporting by and in Bengaluru; editing by and Alexander Smith)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 14 2019. 14:10 IST