On Thursday, the U.K.-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca
Management was fairly happy with the quarterly results. AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan said, "Our agenda is clear. We are determined to maintain the sales momentum of our current product portfolio and continue to build a pipeline to sustain our growth, while driving further productivity improvements and enhancing cash returns to shareholders."
The company has wasted no time in 2007 following through with its commitment to improving its drug pipelines, as it announced a collaborative agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb
Not only was the drug maker's Q4 strong from an operations standpoint, but the company also remained proactive in terms of increasing total returns for shareholders. AstraZeneca repurchased 19.7 million shares at a cost of $1.2 billion during the fourth quarter. Additionally, management decided to increase its cash dividend to shareholders by 32% for the upcoming year. In a move to streamline its future operations, the company has decided to lay off 3,000 employees. This decision comes less than two weeks after Pfizer
As long as the company is able to continue the strong revenue growth from its major contributors, I think shareholders will be able to enjoy a prosperous 2007. Our Motley Fool CAPS community also remains fairly bullish on AstraZeneca. The stock has achieved a three-star rating (out of five) and a 9-to-1 bulls-to-bears ratio in the community. CAPS player Telke likes AstraZeneca as a value play, but is also willing to admit his own limitations. He wrote, "Best valuation of the major drugs [sic] stocks. Note that I am not good enough to analyze the individual drugs or pipeline but this management has generated great ROE."
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