Britain's second-largest drug maker AstraZeneca Plc reported a 26-per cent drop in net profit for the first quarter on declining sales primarily due to expiry of patents for several of its key drugs. The company reported a net profit of $2.32 billion for the quarter against a net profit of $3.12 billion for the same period a year ago.
In a related move, AstraZeneca separately announced the retirement of its chief executive officer David Brennan and induction of chief financial officer Simon Lowth as interim CEO from 1 June 2012, until a permanent successor is in place.
On his retirement Brennan said, ''After more than six years as chief executive officer of this great company I have decided that now is the right time to step down and allow a new leader to take the reins. The board's decision to appoint Simon Lowth as interim chief executive officer has my full support and I am confident that AstraZeneca will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of patients around the world and by doing so will deliver real value to our shareholders.''
AstraZeneca's revenue for the first quarter declined by 11 per cent to $7.35 billion compared to $8.29 billion for the same quarter a year ago. Earnings per share dropped 19 per cent to 1.81, from 2.23 for the same period.
Geographically, US revenues were down 12 per cent, in Europe 19 per cent and in developed countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand 11 per cent. Emerging country sales marginally increased by 1 per cent, mainly on account of a 13-per cent surge in Chinese revenue.
Commenting on the results, Brennan said: ''The anticipated impact from the loss of exclusivity on several brands, together with challenging market conditions, has made for a difficult start to the year in revenue terms.''