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Covid vaccine pushes AstraZeneca to record sales

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AstraZeneca has reported a record quarter for revenue including $1.8bn from its Covid-19 vaccine and sales from its $39bn acquisition of rare disease company Alexion.

Total revenue at the UK drugmaker soared 63 per cent year-on-year to $12bn in the fourth quarter, on a constant currency basis, higher than the consensus forecast for $11bn. Two cancer drugs — Tagrisso and Lynparza — and Soliris for a rare disease each generated more than $1bn in the three-month period.

Core earnings per share rose 74 per cent to $1.67, above the average analyst estimate for 73 cents.

The company raised its dividend for the first time in a decade, with a total 2021 dividend of $2.87.

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s chief executive, said the company had “industry-leading research and development productivity”, with five new medicines becoming blockbusters last year.

“We also delivered on our promise of broad and equitable access to our Covid-19 vaccine with 2.5bn doses released for supply around the world,” he said.

AstraZeneca made its first sales of its Covid-19 vaccine on a for-profit basis in the quarter but did not break out the revenue generated from the new contracts.

The pharmaceutical company forecasts a high teens percentage increase in total revenue in 2022, at constant exchange rates, and a mid-to-high twenties percentage rise in core earnings per share.

In 2021, AstraZeneca reported total revenue of $37bn, up 38 per cent year-on-year at constant exchange rates, of which $4bn was from the Covid-19 vaccine developed in partnership with Oxford university.

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