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Is a Beat Likely for AstraZeneca (AZN) in Q1 Earnings?

We expect AstraZeneca plc AZN first-quarter 2021 results, slated on Apr 30, before market open, to beat expectations. In the last reported quarter, the company delivered an earnings surprise of 1.89%.

The company’s earnings beat estimates in three of the past four quarters and missed the same once, with the average earnings surprise being 4.92%.

Shares of AstraZeneca have gained 4.7% so far this year compared with the industry‘s increase of 3.1%.

Factors at Play

Sales of AstraZeneca’s newer medicines, mainly cancer drugs including — Lynparza, Tagrisso and Imfinzi — are expected to have driven the company’s top line in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, sales of Tagrisso are likely to have been higher in the first quarter on the back of continued underlying demand growth and strong uptake in the first-line setting.

Sales of Lynparza, which is marketed in collaboration with Merck MRK, are likely to have been driven by expanded use in prostate cancer and first-line ovarian cancer.

First-quarter sales of Imfinzi are likely to have benefited from strong demand trends in the United States, especially in lung cancer indications. Moreover, the launch of the drug for patients with extensive stage small cell lung cancer is likely to have brought additional revenues in the soon-to-be-reported quarter. Meanwhile, strong uptake of Calquence in leukemia patients is likely to have brought additional revenues during the quarter. Moreover, the drug received approval in Europe for leukemia in November 2020, which has likely boosted sales further.

Product sales of some drugs, especially Pulmicort, in 2020 were hurt due to COVID-19 related disruptions. The trend is likely to have continued in the first quarter of 2021.

AstraZeneca’s other major drugs like Fasenra and Farxiga are likely to have contributed to sales growth in the soon-to-be-reported quarter. However, Brilinta sales might have been hurt due to pricing pressure in China as well as the impact of COVID-19.

Sales of AstraZeneca’s COPD drug Symbicort improved in 2020, following the launch of an authorized generic version by AstraZeneca’s partner, Prasco in the United States. The momentum is likely to have continued in the soon-to-be-reported quarter. However, slowdown in hospital visits in China due to coronavirus might have hurt sales of Pulmicort during the quarter.

Sales of AstraZeneca’s major legacy drugs have been declining due to rising generic competition. The trend is likely to have continued in the first quarter.

AstraZeneca received approval for its coronavirus vaccine in multiple countries in the last four months. We expect vaccine sales to have boosted the top line during the soon-to-be reported quarter.

However, we note that AstraZeneca’s vaccine was linked to reports of rare blood clots last month. Moreover, the vaccine is yet to get authorization in the United States.

Investors will likely focus on updates related to the vaccine during the first-quarter earnings call. They  will be keen to know about the probable timeline for authorization of the vaccine in the United States as well as the impact of the blood clot issue on vaccination with AstraZeneca’s vaccine. The company may provide its guidance for total revenues and COVID-19 vaccine sales for 2021 on its earnings call.

Earnings Beat Likely

Our proven model predicts an earnings beat for AstraZeneca this time around. The combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the chances of an earnings beat. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they are reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.

Earnings ESP: Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate Estimate (75 cents per ADS) and the Zacks Consensus Estimate (71 cents per ADS), is +5.26%.

Zacks Rank: AstraZeneca carries a Zacks Rank #3. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

AstraZeneca PLC Price and EPS Surprise

AstraZeneca PLC price-eps-surprise | AstraZeneca PLC Quote

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are two large pharma/biotech stocks that also have the right combination of elements to beat on earnings this time around.

GlaxoSmithKline GSK has an Earnings ESP of +9.16% and a Zacks Rank #3.

BioNTech SE BNTX has an Earnings ESP of +22.76% and a Zacks Rank #3.

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AstraZeneca PLC (AZN): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR (BNTX): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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