British drugs group AstraZeneca on Thursday hiked its shareholder dividend citing optimism over its strong performance.

AstraZeneca "intends to increase the annualised dividend" by seven percent to $3.10 per share, in a move which was "underlining the company's confidence in its performance and cash generation", it said in a statement ahead of its annual general meeting in London.

The news sent the company's share price more than one percent higher in mid-morning deals on the British capital's falling stock market.

Astra board chairman Michel Demaré added that the hike was "in line with our progressive dividend policy, which remains unchanged, and reflects the continuing strength of AstraZeneca's investment proposition for shareholders".

Thursday's news comes after the group revealed in February that net profit almost doubled to $6 billion last year, with a strong cancer division helping offset a wipeout for sales of Covid treatments.

Revenue rose three percent to nearly $46 billion in 2023 compared to a year earlier, even though sales of Covid treatments slumped more than $3.7 billion. Its oncology unit's sales jumped 23 percent.

AstraZeneca last month agreed to buy US biopharma firm Fusion for up to $2.4 billion, in its latest expansion into cancer treatments.

Fusion is developing next-generation radiotherapy to treat cancer via precise targeting that minimises damage to healthy cells. Its method also enables access to tumours that are hard to reach using standard radiation.