StockMarketWire.com - Pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca booked a 36% declined in first-quarter profit, as falling sales of heart disease treatment Crestor weighed on revenue.

Pre-tax profit fell to $374m, down from $582m in the previous corresponding period, as revenue fell 4% to $5.18bn, or 9% in constant currency terms.

Product sales rose 3% to $4.99bn, but fell 2% at constant exchange rates.

Core earnings per share fell 51% to $0.48 in the quarter.

The firm blamed the performance on weaker 'externalisation' revenue, the ongoing slump in Crestor sales and investment in launches offsetting growth of newer medicines and strong performance in China.

Guidance for 2018 remained unchanged, but the firm said it expected core earnings per share and product sales would benefit from a low single-digit favourable impact from currency movements. The firm also expected to return to product sales growth this year.

'We delivered strong results for Lynparza, Tagrisso and Imfinzi in Oncology, Brilinta and Farxiga in CVRM and a successful launch of Fasenra in Respiratory,' said Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer.

'Our China sales continued to surpass expectations and we expect that the effects of the Crestor patent expiries in Europe and Japan will recede materially in the second half.'

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