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AstraZeneca shares slip as Q4 profits miss forecasts

(Sharecast News) - Biopharma titan AstraZeneca delivered a 6% increase in sales in 2023 despite a $3.7bn decline in Covid-19 medicines revenues, as it guided to a strong pick-up in growth this year - though profits came in slightly under analysts' forecasts. Group revenues totalled $45.8bn last year, up 6% at constant exchange rates from the $44.4bn generated in 2022. Excluding Covid-19 medicines, growth would have been 15%.

The company saw a particularly strong performance in Oncology, where sales of cancer drugs jumped 21% to $18.5bn, and also saw double-digit growth in Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism (+18%), Respiratory & Immunology (+10%), and Rare Disease (+12%).

Core earnings per share were up 15% on the year at $7.26, but fourth-quarter core EPS rose by a lesser 7% to $1.45, which was a 3% miss against consensus forecasts.

The stock was down 2.2% at 10,260p in early trading on Thursday.

Looking ahead to the 2024 financial year, total revenues and core EPS are expected to increase by a low double-digit to low teens percentage at constant exchange rates.

"We expect another year of strong growth in 2024, driven by continued adoption of our medicines across geographies," said chief executive Pascal Soriot.

"Our differentiated and growing portfolio of approved medicines, global reach and rich R&D pipeline give us confidence that we will continue to deliver industry-leading growth."

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