AstraZeneca forecast a second straight year of sales growth on Thursday, driven by cancer medicines and other new drugs as the British drugmaker recovers from losing major patents.
AstraZeneca's push to turn around a slump in sales rides in large part on cancer treatments Imfinzi and Lynparza, as it looks to compete with Merck & Co's blockbuster Keytruda.
The drugmaker's fourth quarter earnings showed oncology drug sales rose 61 percent year-on-year to $1.78 billion, while sales of all AstraZeneca products in China, which have more than doubled since 2012, also rose 22 percent to $948 million.
AstraZeneca has suffered the industry's biggest loss of drug patents since 2012, wiping out more than half of its sales, but analysts now believe it is poised for one of the sector's fastest growth rates in the coming years.
Shares in AstraZeneca rose 2.7 percent to 5,875 pence in early trade as analysts welcomed the earnings.
Speaking to CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche Thursday, CEO Pascal Soriot said the company was entering a period of sustainable sales growth that would translate into profit growth in the coming years.
"Now is the time to reorganize ourselves and focus even more on oncology and biopharmaceuticals," he said. "Oncology represents about 50 percent of our pipeline and 50 percent of our sales growth moving forward, so our goal is to make sure our commercial organization and R&D (research and development) organization work hand-in-hand."