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AstraZeneca Q1 Pre-tax Profit Down; Cuts 2012 Core EPS View; CEO To Retire

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AstraZeneca Plc (AZN: Quote,AZN.L) reported first quarter pre-tax profit of $2.05 billion versus $3.29 billion last year. Earnings per $0.25 Ordinary share were down to $1.28 from $2.07 a year ago.

Core earnings per share were $1.81 in the first quarter, down 19 percent from a year ago, which benefited by $0.46 from two one-off gains. Excluding these gains, Core EPS would have increased by 2 percent compared with last year.

On average, three analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $1.78 per share. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Revenue declined to $7.35 billion from $8.29 billion last year. Analysts estimated revenues of $7.85 billion.

Loss of exclusivity on several key brands accounted for 8 percentage points of the revenue decline, which included the recognition of a $223 million returns reserve against US trade inventories of Seroquel IR following generic launches at the end of March 2012, the company said.

AstraZeneca anticipates a rebound in the remaining three quarters, but achieving double-digit growth for the full year may be a challenge.

The company lowered its Core EPS target for the full year 2012 to the range of $5.85 to $6.15 from $6.00 to $6.30. AstraZeneca now expects the decline in revenue for the full year will be in the range of the low to mid-teens in constant currency terms. Analysts expect the company to earn $6.14 per share, on revenues of $30.01 billion.

Earlier, Astrazeneca anticipated a constant currency revenue decline for 2012 in the low double-digit range.

Separately, AstraZeneca announced that Chief Executive Officer and Board member, David Brennan has decided to retire. David Brennan will retire from AstraZeneca and relinquish his Board responsibilities on 1 June 2012.

Following David's decision, the Board named Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer Simon Lowth as interim Chief Executive Officer from 1 June 2012 until a permanent successor is in place. Julie Brown, Vice President Group Finance, will become interim Chief Financial Officer on the same date.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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