AstraZeneca lists $275mn COVID-19 vaccine sales with strong Q1 revenue

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine
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The UK-based multinational pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca announced $275 million in sales from the COVID-19 vaccine, after reporting strong revenue growth in the first quarter of the year.

It’s the first time the FTSE100-listed AstraZeneca has disclosed information about the vaccine’s sales and distribution which it produced with the University of Oxford and manufactures and distributes at cost.

The COVID-19 vaccine accounted for just under 4 percent of AstraZeneca’s sales in the first quarter, with overall revenue up 11 percent year on year to $7.32 billion at constant exchange rates in the three months to March with core earnings of $1.63 per share.

Globally, about 68 million vaccine doses have been distributed, with sales of about $224 million taking place in Europe, $43 million in emerging markets, and $8 million in the rest of the world.

AstraZeneca’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. Pascal Soriot remarked that “this performance ensured another quarter of strong revenue and earnings progression, continued profitability, and cash flow generation, despite the pandemic’s ongoing negative impact on the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions.”

Aside from the vaccine, the company recorded a 20 percent rise in oncology revenues year over year, as well as a 14 percent increase in revenue from emerging markets, including a 19 percent increase in China.

Mr. Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at British financial service company, Hargreaves Lansdown pointed out that the pandemic “has on the whole been bad news for AstraZeneca’s bottom line. Vaccine sales are boosting sales but a commitment to sell it at cost while the pandemic lasts means profits are unaffected.”

The announcement comes at the end of a difficult week for the company, which saw the European Union (EU) launching legal action over COVID-19 vaccine distribution delays that disrupted the bloc’s vaccination efforts.

Although AstraZeneca’s vaccine is approved in over 100 countries, it has been the subject of much debate due to reports of blood clots in some patients.

The pharmaceutical firm said that profit after tax jumped to $1.56bn in the three months to the end of March, up from $780 million a year earlier, and the company expects higher sales in the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, Vaccitech, the biotech start-up that owns the technology behind the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, priced its ordinary shares at $17 each for its Nasdaq initial public offering (IPO) under the ticket VACC.

After announcing plans to go public earlier this month, the British firm expects gross proceeds of $110.5 million from the offering of 6.5 million American Depositary Shares.
Its preference for a US listing over a UK listing is a setback for London’s efforts to become a major financial hub, particularly after Brexit.

Ms. Susannah Streeter, Senior Investment and Markets Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, noted strong investor demand for companies in this space.

“Although at present AstraZeneca is producing the vaccine at cost, once the pandemic has ended, the pharma giant and Vaccitech will benefit from future sales as batches are sold around the world,” Ms. Streeter concluded.

Related: Game changer: Pfizer’s COVID-19 oral drug could be ready by 2021 end