AstraZeneca expects growth, not counting vaccine

AstraZeneca expects profit growth to pick up this year - and that's without even counting its COVID-19 vaccine.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has spent the past year in the spotlight.

It teamed up with the University of Oxford to develop a vaccine.

Now global hopes ride on the shot, which is cheaper and easier to distribute than rival products.

Though there is concern that it could prove less effective against some variants of the virus.

The London-listed firm says it will report sales of the treatment separately from its other income.

It has pledged not to profit from the vaccine while the global health crisis lasts.

Even so, AstraZeneca said Thursday (February 11) it expects earnings to grow by as much as 24% this year.

The guidance was fractionally lower than analyst forecasts, but seemed to satisfy investors.

Shares in the firm rose around 2% in early trade.

While all eyes are on the vaccine, AstraZeneca's core business of diabetes, heart, kidney and cancer medicines has proved resilient.

Sales of its best-selling Tagrisso cancer drug soared 31% over the fourth quarter, helping product sales to beat forecasts.