AZN: First quarter 2021 results

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AstraZeneca PLC

30 April 2021 07:00 BST


First quarter 2021 results

Robust performance supports continued investment for long-term sustainable growth


AstraZeneca delivered robust revenue growth of 15% (11% at CER1) in the quarter to $7,320m; excluding the contribution from the pandemic COVID-19 vaccine, revenue growth increased by 11% (7% at CER) to $7,045m. The overall results in the quarter further increased the Company's profitability and cash generation, while the pipeline demonstrated encouraging progress; the Company reiterates full-year 2021 guidance.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, commented:

"We delivered solid progress in the first quarter of 2021 and continued to advance our portfolio of life-changing medicines. Oncology grew 16% and New CVRM grew 15%. New medicines contributed over half of revenue and all regions delivered encouraging growth. This performance ensured another quarter of strong revenue and earnings progression, continued profitability, and cash-flow generation, despite the pandemic's ongoing negative impact on the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions. Given the performance in the first quarter, in line with our expectations, we reiterate our full-year guidance. We expect the impact of COVID to reduce and anticipate a performance acceleration in the second half of 2021.

Further significant pipeline advances were achieved as we continued to invest for long-term sustainable growth, including the OlympiA Phase III trial demonstrating Lynparza's benefit for certain forms of early breast cancer. This sustained pipeline progress and accelerating business performance underlines our commitment to patients and delivering our growth potential, which will be further complemented by the proposed acquisition of Alexion."

Table 1: Q1 2021 - Financial summary


Actual CER
$m  % change % change
- Product Sales 7,257  15 11
- Collaboration Revenue 63  43 42
Total revenue 7,320  15 11
- Less pandemic COVID-19 vaccine 275  n/m2 n/m
Total revenue ex. pandemic vaccine3 7,045  11 7
Reported4 EPS5 $1.19  100 97
Core6 EPS $1.63  55 53
Impact of pandemic vaccine on EPS $(0.03) n/m n/m

Highlights of Total Revenue in the quarter included:

- An increase in Product Sales of 15% (11% at CER) to $7,257m. New medicines7 Total Revenue improved by 30% (26% at CER) in the quarter to $3,891m, including growth in Emerging Markets of 33% (30% at CER) to $874m. Globally, new medicines represented 53% of Total Revenue (Q1 2020: 47%). Q1 2020 benefitted from a low-to-mid single-digit percentage increase in sales following short-term inventory increases in the distribution channel, an indirect effect of the COVID-19 pandemic

- Oncology growth of 20% (16% at CER) to $3,024m, an increase in New CVRM8 of 19% (15% at CER) to $1,306m. Respiratory & Immunology (R&I), however, declined by 1% (4% at CER) to $1,546m, predominately reflecting the impact of stocking of an authorised generic version of Symbicort in the US during Q1 2020 and phasing of COVID-19 impacts

- An increase in Emerging Markets of 14% (10% at CER) to $2,592m, with China growth of 19% (10% at CER) to $1,679m. In the US, Total Revenue increased by 10% to $2,310m and in Europe by 28% (18% at CER) to $1,546m


The Company reiterates guidance for FY 2021 at CER.

Total Revenue is expected to increase by a low-teens percentage,
accompanied by faster growth in Core EPS to $4.75 to $5.00.

The guidance does not incorporate any revenue or profit impact from sales of the pandemic COVID-19 vaccine. Similarly, the guidance excludes the proposed acquisition of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Alexion) which is intended to become AstraZeneca's rare disease unit and area of expertise. The acquisition is anticipated to close in Q3 2021. AstraZeneca recognises the heightened risks and uncertainties from the impact of COVID-19. Variations in performance between quarters can be expected to continue.

The Company is unable to provide guidance and indications on a Reported basis because AstraZeneca cannot reliably forecast material elements of the Reported result, including any fair value adjustments arising on acquisition-related liabilities, intangible asset impairment charges and legal-settlement provisions. Please refer to the cautionary statements section regarding forward-looking statements at the end of this announcement.



The Company provides indications for FY 2021 at CER:

- AstraZeneca continues its focus on improving operating leverage, while addressing its most important capital-allocation priority of re-investment in the business, namely continued investment in R&D and the support of medicines and patient access in key markets

- A Core Tax Rate of 18-22%. Variations in the Core Tax Rate between quarters are anticipated to continue

Currency impact

If foreign-exchange rates for April to December 2021 were to remain at the average of rates seen in the quarter, it is anticipated that there would be a low single-digit favourable impact on Total Revenue and Core EPS. The Company's foreign-exchange rate sensitivity analysis is contained within the operating and financial review.

Financial summary

- Total Revenue, comprising Product Sales and Collaboration Revenue, increased by 15% in the quarter (11% at CER) to $7,320m. Product Sales grew by 15% (11% at CER) to $7,257m, driven primarily by the performances of new medicines across Oncology and BioPharmaceuticals, including Tagrisso and Farxiga. Total Revenue included $275m of pandemic COVID-19 vaccine sales

- The Reported Gross Profit Margin9 declined by three percentage points to 74.3%, and the Core Gross Profit9 Margin declined by three percentage points in the quarter to 74.6%. The performance predominantly reflected the significant impact of equitable supply, at no profit to AstraZeneca, of the pandemic COVID-19 vaccine, together with an increasing contribution from profit-sharing arrangements, primarily Lynparza, and the impact of the Chinese National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL) and the volume-based procurement (VBP) patient-access programmes. A higher proportion of Oncology sales and increasing patient access in China partially offsets these impacts. These variations in gross margin performance between quarters can be expected to continue

- Reported Total Operating Expense increased by 13% (9% at CER) in the quarter to $4,741m and represented 65% of Total Revenue (Q1 2020: 66%). Core Total Operating Expense increased by 15% (11% at CER) to $4,136m and comprised 57% of Total Revenue (Q1 2020: 57%)

- Reported and Core R&D Expense increased by 24% (19% at CER) in the quarter to $1,713m and by 23% (18% at CER) to $1,638m, respectively. The increases primarily reflected the investment in Phase III and the advancement to Phase II of several clinical development programmes, particularly in BioPharmaceuticals. The Company continued to invest in its COVID-19 vaccine and potential medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19

- Reported SG&A Expense increased by 8% (4% at CER) in the quarter to $2,929m; Core SG&A Expense increased by 10% (7% at CER) to $2,399m, representing 33% of Total Revenue (Q1 2020: 34%)

- Reported Other Operating Income and Expense10 grew by 146% (145% at CER) in the quarter to $1,180m. Core Other Operating Income and Expense increased by 147% (146% at CER) to $1,180m during the period. The growth predominately reflected the $776m of income from divestment of AstraZeneca's 26.7% share of Viela Bio, Inc. (Viela) as part of the acquisition by Horizon Therapeutics plc

- The Reported Operating Profit Margin increased by seven percentage points in the quarter (eight at CER) to 26%; the Core Operating Profit Margin increased by five percentage points (six at CER) to 34%. The performance predominately reflected the aforementioned one-time benefit from Other Operating Income and Expense10

- Reported EPS of $1.19 in the quarter represented an increase of 100% (97% at CER). Core EPS grew by 55% (53% at CER) to $1.63. EPS benefitted from a lower tax rate as a result of a non-taxable gain from the divestment of AstraZeneca's share of Viela


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