AstraZeneca to buy Actavis lung drugs as Q4 earnings fall short

Thu Feb 5, 2015 2:19am EST
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LONDON Feb 5 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca said on Thursday it had agreed to buy Actavis' branded respiratory drug business in the United States and Canada for an initial payment of $600 million as it seeks external deals to ensure growth.

The announcement came as Britain's second-biggest drugmaker posted fourth-quarter results that fell short of expectations and said 2015 sales revenue was expected to decline by a mid single-digit percentage rate at constant exchange rates.

Core earnings per share, however, are forecast to increase by a low single-digit percent this year.

The British group, which saw off a $118 billion bid by Pfizer last year, said its sales in the fourth quarter fell 2 percent to $6.68 billion, generating core earnings down 38 percent at 76 cents a share.

Industry analysts had on average forecast sales in the quarter of $6.79 billion and earnings of 82 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by David Holmes)