AstraZeneca's first quarter sales increased four per cent to $7.7 billion (£3.89 billion), boosted by its acquisition of MedImmune.
Core earnings per share (EPS) in the first quarter were $1.28 (£0.65) compared with $1.07 (54p) in the first quarter 2007, a nine per cent increase due to the growth in core operating profit and the benefit of a lower number of shares outstanding.
The results were slightly ahead of expectations, as a poll of 13 analysts' estimates provided by the company saw core EPS at $1.23 (62p).
The UK's second largest pharmaceutical company said core operating profit was up 12 per cent to $2.77 billion ($1.4 billion) on margin improvements but operating profit after exceptional items was down five per cent from last year to $2.3 billion (£1.16 billion).
Restructuring and synergy costs, Merck and MedImmune-related amortisation and an intangible asset impairment charge as a result of the 'at risk' launch of a generic competitor to MedImmune's oncology product Ethyol combined to bring down income in the quarter.
The restructuring scheme has cost the company $1.08 billion (£0.55 billion) so far, and AstraZeneca said it remains on track to deliver two-thirds of the total programme benefits of $1.4 billion (£0.7 billion) per annum by the end of this year, with the full amount to be delivered by 2010.
Chief executive David Brennan said: "The first quarter performance puts us on track to achieve our full year financial targets.
"We have also announced the motavizumab BLA submission in January - the first of three regulatory filings planned for 2008 - and the agreement to settle the Nexium patent infringement litigation against Ranbaxy, which has provided increased clarity and stability to allow us to continue the substantial investment in our growing pipeline of new medicines."
AstraZeneca said it is on track to achieve the full year targets. The target range for core earnings per share has been increased to $4.45 (£2.25) to $4.75 (£2.4) to reflect the currency benefits realised in the first quarter relative to the currency assumptions upon which the targets were based.