AstraZeneca earnings per share declined 31 percent in first quarter

AstraZeneca offices in England. The firm, which also has facilitiesin Delaware, announced more job cuts.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Thursday that its first quarter profits fell 31 percent, as measured by earnings per share, from the same period in 2012 and it attributed much of the decline to lower revenue from drugs that face generic competition after losing patent exclusivity.

"As anticipated, the first quarter performance reflects the loss of exclusivity for several large products," AstraZeneca chief executive officer Pascal Soriot said in a statement. "We remain focused on our strategic priorities of returning to growth and achieving scientific leadership. Brilinta, the diabetes franchise, emerging markets, Japan and our respiratory products have all made good progress and we continued to invest in distinctive science that will advance our knowledge of disease physiology and help to identify new drug targets."

AstraZeneca is based in London, but has operations in Wilmington and Newark, Del.

The company said in March that it was cutting or moving about 1200 jobs from Wilmington, most related to a reorganization of research and development operations. Some of the people keeping jobs will have to move to Gaithersburg, Md. The company headquarters will also move from London to Cambridge in hopes of being closer to scientific researchers.

AstraZeneca has its annual shareholders meeting Thursday in London.

Shareholder groups have objected to the pay package of Soriot and board members, in light of declining revenue and profits.

Some companies are past the worst of their problems related to declining revenue from drugs going off patent, though they are struggling to develop new medicines that generate anywhere near the profits of blockbuster drugs from years past.

But AstraZeneca is not there. Indeed, it's patent cliff problems will extend for the next several years.

The antipsychotic drug Seroquel IR went off patent in late March of 2012 and revenue fell 99 percent in the first quarter of 2013. AstraZeneca's cholesterol medicine Crestor faces U.S. patent expiration in 2016, but the drug went off patent in Canada this year.

The company also said Thursday in its quarterly earnings report that it expects "mid-to-high single digit decline in revenue" for the rest of the year with profits worsening.

Tim Anderson, of Bernstein Research, said in a note to clients after the results were released Thursday that the pain for AstraZeneca could continue "primarily because of the company's uninspiring 5-year financial outlook."

The AstraZeneca financial announcement is here.