AstraZeneca drug sales fall on patent expiries in second quarter

LONDON Thu Aug 1, 2013 2:19am EDT

LONDON Aug 1 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca sales fell by a slightly more -than-expected 6 percent in the second quarter, hurt by loss of patent protection on key drugs, while earnings tumbled nearly a quarter due to a higher tax rate.

New Chief Executive Pascal Soriot is striving to turn around the business after a series of setbacks in research and a wave of patent expiries, but has warned that fixing Britain's second biggest drugmaker will take several years.

The group reiterated its expectation for a mid-to-high single digit percentage fall in revenue this year, while operating costs are now seen increasing by a low-to-mid single digit rate. Earnings are expected to decline significantly more than revenue in 2013.

Sales in the quarter were $6.232 billion, generating "core" earnings, which exclude certain items, down 23 percent at $1.20 a share, AstraZeneca said on Thursday.

Analysts had, on average, forecast sales of $6.248 billion and earnings of $1.20, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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