United Kingdom

Astrazeneca shares fall after it warns that coronavirus epidemic will hit business

Astrazeneca shares fell after it warned that the coronavirus epidemic will hit the business for 'up to a few months'.

The drug maker said the outbreak will make projections for the year ahead tricky and could knock it much harder than its rivals because China is its fastest-growing market.

Astrazeneca estimates that revenues will rise by high single-digits or low double-digits, but emphasised this could change.

Warning: The drug maker said the coronavirus outbreak will make projections for the year ahead tricky

The FTSE 100-listed group said that all of its guidance 'assumes an unfavourable impact from China lasting up to a few months'.

The death toll in mainland China is now more than 1,300, while the total number of confirmed cases there is over 63,000.

Astrazeneca's warning came after it reported a 15 per cent rise in annual sales to £18 billion. Product sales included a 35 per cent rise in China alone.

The pharmaceuticals firm experienced a rollercoaster day on the stock market. Its shares initially fell by 6 per cent, before rebounding after chief executive Pascal Soriot played down the impact the coronavirus has been having so far.

It eventually closed down 4.3 per cent, or 326p, at 7300p.