Moody's Says Buybacks Could Weaken AstraZeneca PLC (AZN)  
3/15/2012 7:55:39 AM

AstraZeneca Plc's plans to buy back $4.5 billion of shares this year could weaken its financial position and pressure the drugmaker's credit rating, Moody's Investors Service said on Wednesday. Other European drugmakers with buyback plans could also come under pressure, but the risk is more obvious at Britain's second-biggest pharmaceuticals company, given the size of its intended buybacks and the scale of the challenges facing the business. Marie Fischer-Sabatie, a senior credit officer at Moody's, said AstraZeneca's planned buybacks exceeded the $2.5 billion that the company was expected to generate in post-dividend free cash flow in 2012.