AstraZeneca yesterday beat forecasts with a 26 per cent jump in second-quarter profit - but the group disappointed investors hoping for a more bullish outlook and its shares fell more than four per cent.
Europe's third-biggest drugmaker also highlighted mounting pressure on prices in the United States and Germany for its best-selling heartburn and stomach ulcer drug Nexium, which partly offset continued strong demand for the medicine.
Nexium is one of the Anglo-Swedish group's top three selling drugs, along with Seroquel for schizophrenia and cholesterol fighter Crestor.
Pretax profit was $2.21 billion (£1.2 billion) in the three months to June 30, helped by better-than-expected sales of Crestor.
Following the statement shares in the group, which hit a four-year high this week on earlier-than-expected.
Approval for asthma drug Symbicort, fell 4.5 per cent to £31.74, the top faller in the UK's benchmark FTSE 100 index.
David Beadle, pharmaceuticals analyst at UBS, said the company - like GlaxoSmithK-line on Wednesday - had left investors underwhelmed with a solid but unsurprising set of figures and a cautious statement on earnings guidance.
"Having seen a lot of pharma companies reporting better than expected results this season, both in Europe and the US, the two UK majors have not actually really changed numbers very much," he said.
Industry analysts had already been anticipating a strong quarter from AstraZeneca, thanks in part to lack of generic competition so far to Toprol XL.
That has delayed a major hit to the sales line, which rose eight per cent to $6.63 billion (£3.62 billion) in the quarter.
AstraZeneca has been hit by a number of late-stage product setbacks in the past two years, raising doubts about the strength of its new-drug pipeline.
Navid Malik, an analyst at Collins Stewart, said the decision to end development of an intravenous form of experimental drug AZD 7009 for atrial fibrillation, announced in the quarterly results, was a further blow.
"The current growth drivers are doing very well. But you've got to look to the future as well, and with another product pulled, the pipeline is not looking very convincing," he said.
Chief executive David Brennan (pictured) said he was continuing to look actively at deals to broaden and deepen the drug portfolio, after a flurry of acquisitions and alliances earlier this year.
Mr Brennan said he was confident of prospects for Crestor, whose sales in the quarter beat expectations, showing year-on-year growth of 51 per cent.