AstraZeneca sees $4B in COVID vaccine sales as revenue soars

FILE - A general view of AstraZeneca offices and the corporate logo in Cambridge, England, Saturday, July 18, 2020. AstraZeneca has recorded a big jump in revenue as it begins to take a profit from its coronavirus vaccine for the first time. The company recorded full-year revenues of $37.4 billion, an increase of 38% from the year before at constant exchange rates. Part of the boost came from $4 billion in sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford. Despite rising revenue, AstraZeneca reported a pre-tax loss of $265 million due to costs from its purchase of U.S. drug company Alexion Pharmaceuticals and new drug research. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File) (Alastair Grant, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

LONDON – AstraZeneca recorded a big jump in revenue on Thursday as it begins to take a profit from its coronavirus vaccine for the first time.

The company recorded full-year revenues of $37.4 billion, an increase of 38% from the year before at constant exchange rates. Part of the boost came from $4 billion in sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford.

Despite rising revenue, AstraZeneca reported a pre-tax loss of $265 million due to costs from its purchase of U.S. drug company Alexion Pharmaceuticals and new drug research.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said in November it would begin to take a “modest” profit from the COVID-19 shot, which it had been providing “at cost” — around $2 to $3 —following an agreement with Oxford. Other COVID-19 vaccine producers, such as Pfizer and Moderna, have been booking hefty profits on their shots all along.

In the three months to September, the company said revenue jumped by about 50%, to a record $9.9 billion. The increase was due to sales of more than $1 billion in COVID-19 vaccines and the inclusion for the first time of some $1.3 billion worth of revenue from its rare disease business unit following the recent acquisition of Alexion.

AstraZeneca forecast total group sales to rise by a “high teens percentage” in 2022, but said COVID-19 revenues would decline by a “a low-to-mid twenties percentage."

Chief executive Pascal Soriot said AstraZeneca had “delivered on our promise of broad and equitable access to our COVID-19 vaccine with 2.5 billion doses released for supply around the world.”

“AstraZeneca continued on its strong growth trajectory in 2021, with industry-leading R&D (research and development) productivity, five of our medicines crossing new blockbuster thresholds, and the acquisition and integration of Alexion,” he said.

Soriot said the company would raise the dividend to shareholders by 10 cents to $2.90, the first increase in a decade.

AstraZeneca shares were trading about 3% higher at 8.62 pounds ($11.68) on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday morning.