By Carlo Martuscelli

 

AstraZeneca PLC (AZN.LN) 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 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.

 

Write to Carlo Martuscelli at carlo.martuscelli@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 14, 2020 02:48 ET (07:48 GMT)

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