AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) named a new chief financial officer amidst reporting a sharp fall in its third-quarter sales and profits.

AstraZeneca

Drug maker AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) reported earnings per share of $1.21, falling short of analysts’ estimates of $1.27.

Marc Dunoyer to replace Simon Lowth

Simon Lowth, AstraZeneca’s former CFO, announced his departure in July to take up the same position at BG Group plc. Lowth held the position of CFO of the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals group since 2007. He served as interim CEO from June to October last year, when Soriot was recruited from rival Roche group. Previous CEO David Brennan was forced from the position by investors who blamed him for failures in drug development and accused him of poor job performance. Lowth’s departure came amidst speculation that he was passed over for the permanent position.

New CFO Marc Dunoyer, a French national and former global head of rare diseases at GSK, takes the role having joined AstraZeneca in June as an executive vice-president.

AstraZeneca’s sliding sales and profits

AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) sales in the recent quarter slid by 6% to $6.25 billion against analysts’ forecast of $6.44 billion. The company had to face loss of patent protection on several drugs, including – in some markets, at least – its top-selling cholesterol-fighter Crestor. The pharmaceutical group’s EPS tumbled 28%.

The company’s ‘core’ operating profit of $2.03 billion, which excludes certain items, generated EPS of $1.21 against analysts’ forecast of $1.22.

However, the group reiterated its expectation for a mid-to-high single digit percentage fall in revenue this year with earnings expected to further decline significantly due to rising research and marketing costs.

AstraZeneca loss of exclusivity in key brands

AstraZeneca has lost exclusivity on several key brands including the antipsychotic drug Seroquel, besides its blockbuster cholesterol drug Crestor in Canada and Australia.

The company’s emerging markets revenue was up 5% at constant currency terms. However, it experienced slower sales in China, though the company still registered year-on-year growth of 13% in China.

Commenting on the performance, AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) observed the overall industry has been affected somewhat by the recent investigation into other companies in the industry. However, the impact is variable and the company continues to see broad access for its sales representatives and continued support for quality educational programs by physicians.