AstraZeneca flags cancer advances, silent on Pfizer bid talk

LONDON, April 24 Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:25am EDT

LONDON, April 24 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca highlighted progress with a new generation of cancer drugs that may revive its fortunes as it posted a 17 percent fall in core earnings per share on Thursday, reflecting patent losses on profitable older medicines.

Britain's second-biggest drugmaker made no reference to a reported 60 billion pound ($101 billion) bid approach from Pfizer in its results statement. The firm's new cancer drugs are seen as a key draw for the U.S. group.

AstraZeneca reiterated that 2014 sales were likely to fall by a low-to-mid single digit percentage figure, with earnings declining "in the teens" as generic competition is expected to kick in for its popular heartburn and ulcer drug Nexium.

Sales in the first quarter were flat at $6.42 billion, generating "core" earnings, which exclude certain items, of $1.17 a share.

Industry analysts, on average, had forecast sales in the quarter of $6.37 billion and earnings of $1.20 a share, according to Thomson Reuters. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler, Editing by Paul Sandle)

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