AstraZeneca sees 2022 growth as dividend rises but Covid boost falls

Outside the Macclesfield factory of AstraZeneca.

Christopher Furlong | Getty Images News | Getty Images

AstraZeneca on Thursday forecast higher 2022 sales and raised its annualized dividend after the drugmaker posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit as it gets a lift from its Covid-19 antibody treatment and cancer drugs.

But the London-listed company warned that gross profit margins from coronavirus products were expected to be lower than the company average for this year, while sales for Covid-19 products were expected to decline by a percentage in the low-to-mid 20s.

AstraZeneca, which has said low-income nations would continue to receive its vaccine on a no-profit basis after it began making a modest profit on the shot, set up a separate unit to focus on its coronavirus efforts and other respiratory infections.

“AstraZeneca continued on its strong growth trajectory in 2021 … five of our medicines crossing new blockbuster threshold,” Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker expects 2022 revenue to increase by a percentage in the high teens, with core earnings growing by a percentage in the mid-to-high 20s. In 2021, overall sales jumped 38% to $37.42 billion at constant currency rates.

Analysts estimate $6.68 per share and sales of $42.73 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

The company, seen by analysts as one of the fastest growing major drugmakers mainly thanks to new cancer therapies, also said it would top up its annualized dividend by $0.10 to $2.90, the first year-on-year increase in a decade.

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