AstraZeneca lifts drug sales forecast on China, cancer gains

Credit: REUTERS/© Phil Noble / Reuters

AstraZeneca Plc raised its annual product sales forecast for the second time this year on Thursday, as it profited from strong demand for new cancer treatments Tagrisso and Lynparza as well as 40% growth in China.

By Pushkala Aripaka

Oct 24 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L raised its annual product sales forecast for the second time this year on Thursday, as it profited from strong demand for new cancer treatments Tagrisso and Lynparza as well as 40% growth in China.

The London-listed drugmaker beat expectations for both profit and sales in the third quarter, with product sales topping $6.13 billion, well ahead of a consensus forecast of $5.86 billion.

It reiterated its stance that it was well-prepared for Britain's looming departure from the European Union, even if it were to do so without a withdrawal deal.

Shares in the company were expected to rise 2%, according to brokers' premarket indications.

AstraZeneca's newer treatments for diabetes, asthma and cancer have helped turn its business around after years of crumbling sales, with the third quarter marking its fifth consecutive quarter of growth.

It said it now expects product sales for the whole of 2019 to rise by a low to mid-teens percentage, compared to a previous forecast of low double-digit growth and maintained its core earnings expectation.

Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot pointed to another strong performance from the company's new medicines accompanied by impressive results in key markets, most notably in China, the US and Japan.

Chinese sales rose 40% in the reported period, while oncology sales jumped 48%.

The company reported core earnings of 99 cents per share, above analysts' average expectation of 96 cents per share, according to a company provided consensus of 23 analysts.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

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