I think the company wants to continue the current dividend rate since they will look to use the share price as a means to buy future drugs for the pipeline. There are some great stocks out there working on some fantastic protocols. AZN will be able to leverage the current value to pull some of these into the portfolio. CUR is an interesting stock that offers some hope for those who suffer from ALS and possibly someof the age related neurological deficits. In the fall some results of the trials will be available. This would be a new area for AZN but perhaps they need to expand the base. I intend to stay with AZN. Unfortunately I too bought at a higher price but the company will manage this problem successfully.
One big question/issue is what the company will do to replace sales that are lost to generics and refill the pipeline. I doubt that we will see a drastic change in strategy in the near-term. Once a new full-time CEO is in place, and the new chairman is fully integrated, they will need to document that strategy. I doubt that it will be the same as it is now (I would guess that major shareholders would not be happy if it were). How much of a change, and its implications, will be proposed by the new folks at the top. Where the dividend goes long-term depends on what the new strategy is and how they will implement it. Same goes for the share buybacks that AZN has done over the past few years.
There earnings just dropped 44% this quarter, and they are going to drop another 40% next quarter with their guidance. There is virtually no question that the dividend will be cut in half.. It is unsustainable at the present payout..