How to buy AstraZeneca (AZN) shares

By   |   Verified by Andrew Boyd   |   Updated 31st August 2022

  • British-Swedish multinational AstraZeneca is in the business of pharmaceutical preparations.
  • Besides immunology therapies such as a vaccine for COVID-19, it sells a variety of drugs for chronic non-communicable disorders and cancer.
  • Most of its sales come from across the globe, with the US accounting for just one third.

AstraZeneca plc (LSE: AZN) is a multinational biopharmaceutical company created by a merger between the Swedish firm Astra and UK's Zeneca Group in 1999. It is headquartered at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in England.

To buy shares in AstraZeneca from the UK, here’s what to do.

About the company

AstraZeneca overview

AstraZeneca sells branded drugs across a number of key therapeutic classes. These include drugs used for treating diabetes and gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, cancer and respiratory disorders as well as cancer and immunology therapies. Close to one third of its sales come from the United States and the rest from international markets.

AstraZeneca subsidiaries include Alexion Pharmaceuticals and MedImmune.

Unsure about what share dealer to use?

Where to buy AstraZeneca shares

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Compare share dealing platforms designed for British investors.

First time buying?

How to buy AstraZeneca shares

Step 1: Choose a broker

When you buy shares online, you do it through an intermediary called a broker. There are lots of online brokers available, offering various options. You need one with access to the London stock exchange.

Here are some key features to look for when choosing an online broker:

Low-cost brokerage

The advent of online share trading has seen brokerage costs plunge.

If you shop around, you'll be able to find online platforms offering very competitive brokerage rates.

Be careful to weigh up brokerage costs against other services the online trader may or may not offer.

User-friendly trading platform

Trading in shares needn't be complicated, so keep an eye out for a trading platform that is straightforward to use.

Research and analysis

Look for a platform that has a solid research and reporting section that can give you important information about AstraZeneca, including a company overview, price history, recommendations, and price forecasts.

Step 2: Funding your account

Next, it's time to add money to your account so you can make trades. Keep in mind the minimum transaction for any initial investment, which varies between brokers.

You will need to transfer funds from your bank account and it may take around 3 days for the funds to clear.

Step 3: Decide how much you want to invest

Deciding how much you want to risk on your investments is a pretty basic start, but it's more important than you think.

Work out a budget for buying shares and only spend what you can afford to lose.

Step 4: Choose between buying shares or an ETF

Another option for more cautious investors is an ETF or Exchange Traded Fund, which allows you to invest in a market as a whole or a specific commodity rather than an individual company like AstraZeneca. This product tracks that market, meaning it's less likely to experience sudden rises or falls, but it also means it's harder to make the kind of big gains you can with shares.

ETFs with exposure to AstraZeneca include iShares Global Healthcare ETF (IXJ), ProShares Ultra NASDAQ Biotechnology (BIB), and Invesco Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (SBIO).

Step 5: Decide your order type

So, you've decided to buy AstraZeneca shares. These are some of the main order types available to execute your trade.

Market order

These are orders to buy shares at the current market price. In fast-moving markets, these prices can change while you're making the trade. Let's say you place an order for AstraZeneca shares at 8,300p. You place an order but by the time it executes the share price has dropped to 8,295p. You will get your shares at the lower price. The same situation applies if the share price goes up while your order is being executed.

Limit order

With a buy limit order, your trade will only execute when the share price reaches the price, or lower, that you nominate. Let's say you decide you only want to buy AstraZeneca shares at 8,300p or lower. Once the price drops to that price, your limit order will kick in.

Stop limit

This is when you nominate a price at which to sell your shares. When that price is reached, your sell order is executed. For example, you decide you want to sell your AstraZeneca shares at 8,450p. Once the price hits what you have specified, the stop limit executes.

Stop loss

This helps you reduce risk. With a stop loss order, you nominate a price at which you decide to sell your shares. If the share price goes into free-fall, for example, the stop loss means you sell out before your shareholding suffers too much damage. However your order will be filled at the next available market price.

After you buy

What moves AstraZeneca's share price

Making a share investment is just one step. Assuming you plan on holding your shares for some time, it becomes necessary to monitor your share portfolio and keep track of your investment by watching how the share prices move and how the company performs. Here's how you can do that.

Track AstraZeneca’s share price and company performance

This is necessary whether you are buying shares for speculative purposes or to hold long term.

Although its name earned global recognition as one of the first vaccines for COVID-19, AstraZeneca has many other important drugs in the pipeline. Its performance is going to be affected by these drugs currently in development and clinical trials entering the market as well as by competitor product launches.

AstraZeneca’s competitors

The key competitors of AstraZeneca are the other companies in the pharmaceutical preparations sector. These include Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), Eli Lilly and (NYSE: LLY), GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE: NVO), Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE).

AstraZeneca's top competitors for COVID-19 vaccines are Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

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