February 6, 2014 / 7:20 AM / 5 years ago

AstraZeneca earnings heading south as patent losses bite

LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca expects earnings to continue to fall in 2014 as generic competition to its popular heartburn and ulcer drug Nexium takes a big bite out of U.S. profits from May.

The British drugmaker said on Thursday that group sales this year were likely to decline by a low-to-mid single digit percentage figure, with earnings per share falling “in the teens”, due to the loss of high-margin medicines.

Sales in the fourth quarter of 2013 fell 6 percent to $6.84 billion, generating “core” earnings, which exclude certain items, down 28 percent at $1.23 a share.

Industry analysts, on average, had forecast sales in the quarter of $6.88 billion and earnings of $1.16 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

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