AstraZeneca to take profits from Covid vaccine sales

AstraZeneca has signed its first for-profit deals for its Covid-19 vaccine, moving away from the completely non-profit model that it used during the pandemic.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker is now expecting to transition the vaccine to “modest profitability” as new orders are received. The shot, developed with the University of Oxford, will remain non-profit for developing countries.

The move comes after the creation of a new vaccine and immune therapies unit, which brings together the company’s Covid-19 shot and antibody treatments, as well as its existing products for viral respiratory conditions.

The company booked $1bn in revenues from the vaccine in the third quarter. The profits from vaccine sales in the fourth quarter will cover the costs of investment in AstraZeneca’s antibody treatment for Covid-19.

AstraZeneca beat expectations on revenues but missed on earnings in the third quarter.

Total sales soared by 28 per cent on constant exchange rates to $9.9bn, above the consensus forecast for $9.6bn. Excluding the vaccine, sales rose 17 per cent, driven by oncology drugs, growth in emerging markets and the addition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, the rare diseases company AstraZeneca bought for $39bn.

But adjusted earnings per share of $1.08 fell short of the average analyst estimate of $1.24, after one-off charges related to the integration of Alexion.

AstraZeneca did not change its earnings guidance for the full year, still expecting core earnings per share to between $5.05 and $5.40. Total revenue is expected to grow by a mid-to-high twenties percentage, and a low twenties percentage excluding the Covid-19 vaccine.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive, said he expects a “solid finish” to the year. “Our broad portfolio of medicines and diversified geographic exposure provides a robust platform for long-term sustainable growth,” he said.

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