AstraZeneca first-quarter sales beat estimates on cancer drugs

Credit: REUTERS/Pascal Lauener/File Photo

Adds details on quarter

April 26 (Reuters) - British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc AZN.Lon Friday reported first-quarter product sales and earnings ahead of analysts' expectations, benefiting from higher demand for its cancer medicines.

The company, fresh off an oncology deal with Japan's Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd 4568.T, in February reported annual sales growth for the first time since 2009, turning the business around after a series of patent losses.

Since 2012, AstraZeneca faced a massive loss of patents on older drugs, and much of Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot's push to reboot the company and sustain its sales growth is riding on cancer treatments.

The company has been plowing deeper into the multi-billion dollar cancer treatments market through wide-ranging deals, including those for immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

In the first quarter, sales from the company's oncology unit rose 59 percent to $1.89 billion, accounting for 35 percent of total product sales.

AstraZeneca, which backed its annual sales and earnings forecast, said product sales rose 14 percent at constant currency to $5.47 billion in the quarter.

Core earnings came in at 89 cents per share.

Analysts on average were expecting core earnings of 85 cents per share and product sales of $5.29 billion, according to a company provided consensus of 19 analysts.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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