LONDON – AstraZeneca's new boss warned on Thursday the drugmaker faced a tough year in 2013, with sales expected to fall by a mid-to-high single digit percentage rate as patent expiries continue to erode business.
Earnings will decline "significantly more than revenue" this year as operating costs rise, the company said.
Chief Executive Pascal Soriot hopes eventually to turn the group around by investing in existing growth areas like emerging markets, diabetes care and the new heart drug Brilinta. He is also weighing the case for acquisitions.
Soriot, who joined from Roche in October, will set out his strategy in detail during a keenly awaited investor day on March 21.
Sales in the fourth quarter of 2012 fell 16 percent to $7.28 billion, generating "core" earnings, which exclude certain items, down 3 percent at $1.56 a share. The slower decline in earnings reflected lower costs in the quarter and a favourable tax adjustment.
Industry analysts, on average, had forecast sales in the quarter of $7.20 billion and earnings of $1.35 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler)