AstraZeneca - Sharing the Wealth, But Taking Some Blows
AstraZeneca did a little better than expected, but sales were still down about 4% in the fourth quarter. The company's largest drugs had mixed performance, as Crestor sales jumped 26% and Nexium sales fell 2%. Investors should note, though, that just four drugs accounted for 57% of revenue and AstaZeneca is one of the most "concentrated" drug companies out there. (For more, see UK's Global Footprint Stocks.)
AstraZeneca has had some rough going of late including a complete response letter for Brillinta and the decision to discontinue a range of drugs including olaparib, Certriad, and Iressa. On a more positive note, the company is moving ahead with an exciting first-of-its-kind oral diabetes drug, as well as an oral rheumatoid arthritis drug that could threaten large franchises of Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) and Roche (Nasdaq:RHHBY).
On a happier note, AstraZeneca is not being miserly with its wealth - the company doubled its buyback to $4 billion and pays a respectable dividend. Investors may question, though, whether that money would be better spent in the lab, as pipeline disappointments have taken more than $1 billion out of the mid-term revenue outlook.
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