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11 February, 2021 - 10:44 By Tony Quested

AstraZeneca shares rocket on stunning 2020 results

AstraZeneca’s share price took off in the UK today as the Cambridge-based Big Biotech produced a phenomenal set of results for the 2020 full year.

Revenue rose nine per cent to $26.62 billion with new medicines gaining immediate and impressive traction globally.

The results saw the UK stock rise to 7,393p per share – up 146p – with the market cap a shade under £98bn.

CEO Pascal Soriot added spice to the mix by revealing that 2021 guidance showed continuing progress.

He said: “The performance last year marked a significant step forward for AstraZeneca. Despite the significant impact from the pandemic, we delivered double-digit revenue growth to leverage improved profitability and cash generation. 

“The consistent achievements in the pipeline, the accelerating performance of our business and the progress of the COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated what we can achieve, while the proposed acquisition of Alexion is intended to accelerate our scientific and commercial evolution even further.

“Additional investment in new medicines continued to fuel our rapidly growing oncology and biopharmaceuticals therapy areas. Tagrisso's future was enhanced with its first regulatory approval in early, potentially-curable lung cancer and further national reimbursement in China in advanced disease. 

“Farxiga again expanded its potential beyond diabetes, while tezepelumab promised real hope for patients suffering from severe asthma. Thanks to the focus on an industry-leading pipeline and consistent execution, I am confident that we will continue to deliver more progress for patients and sustained, compelling results.”

Q4 was the first quarter for many years with product sales in excess of $7bn. New-medicine total revenue improved by 33 per cent in the year to $13.95bn, including growth in emerging markets of 53 per cent to $2.845bn. 

Globally, new medicine sales represented 52 per cent of total revenue – up 43 per cent on 2019. Oncology product sales were 23 per cent ahead while China spurred an increase in revenue from emerging markets. China growth was 10 per cent, US growth 13 per cent and Europe 10 per cent.

Guidance for 2021 sales does not incorporate any revenue or profit impact from sales of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca (C19VAZ). The company intends to report these separately from the next quarter. 

It also excludes the proposed acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., anticipated to close in Q3 2021.

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