AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) said it expects to deliver full-year revenue growth of 11-12% even excluding sales from the COVID-19 vaccine.

The FTSE 100 pharma giant said it will report them separately from the next quarter, while it will continue investing in research and development and in the support of medicines and patient access in key markets over the year.

READ: South Africa stops use of AstraZeneca vaccine due to new variant worries

In 2021, core earnings per share (EPS) are expected to come in at US$4.75-5.

Last year, over half of total revenue came from new medicines in the oncology and biopharmaceuticals therapy areas, such as lung cancer drug Tagrisso, diabetes treatment Farxiga and asthma relief Tezepelumab.

In the year to December 31, total revenue rose 9% to US$26bn, with core EPS up 15% to US$4.02, with oncology up 23% and respiratory & immunology down 1% due to the COVID-19 impact on China.

Profit before tax soared 61% to US$3.9bn while cash and cash equivalents were US$7.8bn at the end of the year, with net debt of US$12.1bn.

The full-year dividend remained at US$2.80 per share after a second interim payout of US$1.90 per share.

“There’s good news almost everywhere you look in the AstraZeneca portfolio,” said Nicholas Hyett, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Going forward the group will report any sales or profits from vaccine sales separately, but given Astra has pledged to make no profit from the vaccine ‘while the pandemic lasts’ it’s unlikely to move the dial significantly in 2021.”

“It’s worth noting that free cash flow has comfortably covered the dividend this year – although net debt still rose thanks to legacy acquisition costs. That’s something of a landmark for the group.”

Shares rose 2% to 7,374p on Thursday morning.

–Adds analyst comment, shares–

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