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AstraZeneca Transcends Brexit Woes on Pound Slump, Rival’s Flop

  • Shares rally 37% from June low as pound slumps on EU vote
  • Investors adding Astra ahead of Mystic trial data next year

AstraZeneca Plc, once deemed a laggard in the hot field of immuno-oncology, has rallied 37 percent since its June low with a stable of experimental cancer drugs suddenly gaining allure in the wake of a rival’s failure and speculation of a takeover.

The Brexit referendum first buoyed the stock as the pound slumped ahead of the U.K.’s likely departure from the European Union, reducing research and manufacturing costs for local companies like AstraZeneca, whose largest market is the U.S. The next month, Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot kindled takeover speculation when he touted the company’s prolific product pipeline -- offerings that were highlighted again last week when rival Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. reported a research setback.

“Astra is showing a bit of leg this year because of pipeline missteps by others,’’ said Daniel Mahony, a fund manager at Polar Capital LLP, who owns Astra stock. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the shares move up more from here. The pipeline is coming...