Dow Jones Newswires: AstraZeneca profit misses forecasts and warns outlook hinges on COVID-19

Dow Jones Newswires: AstraZeneca profit misses forecasts and warns outlook hinges on COVID-19

AstraZeneca PLC said Friday that core operating profit fell in the final quarter of the year, missing analysts’ expectations, and guided for growth in the year ahead.


The FTSE 100-listed drug maker AZN, -0.50% AZN, -0.34%  reported that core operating profit slid 29% to $1.55 billion. Profit missed analysts’ expectations of $1.80 billion for the closely-watched company metric that strips out one-off items.


Total revenue rose 3.9% to $6.66 billion, also falling short of analysts’ expectations of $6.73 billion at the top line.


The pharmaceutical company guided for total revenue increasing a high single-digit to a low double-digit percentage in 2020, while core earnings per share are expected to rise by a mid- to high-teens percentage, all at constant exchange rates.


AstraZeneca cautioned that its guidance depends on the final impact of Covid-19, the novel coronavirus first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan.


The current outlook is assuming that the epidemic lasts a few months, but the company said it is closely monitoring the epidemic, and will provide an update during first-quarter results.


China is a major driver of earnings for the business, with quarterly revenue climbing 25% in the period to $1.19 billion.


The company declared a dividend of $1.90 a share, bringing the total dividend at $2.80, unchanged from the year before.