On Thursday, pharma giant AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) announced its second-quarter financial results. Unlike some of its big-pharma brethren, these results were nothing to get excited about.

For the second quarter, sales were up 10% year over year, but net income was down 10% on lower gross margins and higher expenses across the board. The results need to be looked at in an even harsher light considering that, unlike fellow British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), AstraZeneca experienced a four-percentage-point jump in its top line as a result of beneficial exchange rate movements. Even with this benefit and the effects of share buybacks, GAAP diluted earnings per share dropped $0.06 from the second quarter of 2006 to $0.95.

AstraZeneca is still throwing off huge gobs of free cash flow -- $2.7 billion in just the first half of the year. It has used this cash to make dramatic corporate maneuvers like its $15 billion acquisition of MedImmune earlier in the year. The deal closed just last month, and AstraZeneca expects to be able to squeeze out $450 million in cost savings by 2009 from combining the two companies' operations.

AstraZeneca has somewhat become the redheaded stepchild of the large-cap pharma stocks. There are drugmakers with higher dividend yields, like Pfizer (NYSE:PFE); others with better growth prospects, like Merck (NYSE:MRK) or Abbott; and others that may present a better value proposition, like Glaxo. AstraZeneca's financial results and drug pipeline aren't particularly bad, but neither are they anything that stands out. Investors may do well to take a look at some of the other big pharma stocks, which offer more compelling reasons to buy.

GlaxoSmithKline is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation, thanks to its 3.75% yield. Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. You can try out either service absolutely free for 30 days by signing up for a free trial today.

Fool contributor Brian Lawler does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.