Amgen earnings meet forecasts

Biotech's income surges 19% in latest quarter; 15% gain in revenue just below expectations; future uncertain for Aranesp sales.

By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- The biotech Amgen reported first-quarter earnings Monday that matched expectations, though its revenue fell just short of forecasts.

The company's stock rose 1 percent in electronic trading after hours.

Amgen (up $0.22 to $62.19, Charts, Fortune 500) reported a 19 percent surge in non-GAAP first-quarter earnings, or earnings that do not include certain charges, to $1.08 per share for 91 cents a year earlier. That met the analyst consensus from Thomson First Call.

Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., reported a 15 percent jump in total revenue to $3.69 billion from $3.22 billion in the prior year. Analysts surveyed by First Call projected revenue of $3.73 billion.

The biotech also reported a 15 percent jump in adjusted net income, not including certain charges, to $1.27 billion in the first quarter.

The newly-imposed chief financial officer Robert Bradway said first-quarter sales were driven by anti-anemia drug Aranesp, Enbrel for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, and the anti-infective Neupogen.

Sales for the company's top-selling drug Aranesp jumped 14 percent, slightly exceeding $1 billion in the first quarter. Sales for another anemia blockbuster, Epogen, edged up 3 percent to $625 million.

Combined sales for Neulasta and Neupogen, drugs used with therapy to fight infection, jumped 14 percent to just more than $ 1 billion.

Sales for Enbrel jumped 11 percent to $730 million in the first quarter.

Sales for Sensipar, a treatment for kidney disease in dialysis patients, surged 72 percent to $105 million.

But the biotech said its revenue outlook for 2007 was under review. Also, Amgen said its adjusted EPS is expected to come in at the low end of its previously announced range of $4.30 to $4.50 for all of 2007.

George Morrow, chief of global commercial operations, said Amgen won't be able to provide a clearer picture of future revenue before weighing the impact on insurers from heightened FDA warnings regarding anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen.

Aranesp and Epogen are often used in conjunction with chemotherapy, which can cause anemia, a condition caused by the reduction in red blood cells produced. Recent studies showed these drugs may increase the risk of death in cancer patients, according to the FDA.

The Food and Drug Administration required heightened safety warnings for Aranesp and Epogen, as well as for Procrit from Johnson & Johnson (down $0.37 to $64.75, Charts, Fortune 500).

Shiv Kapoor, analyst for investment research firm Montgomery & Co., said Aranesp and Epogen sales might be dampened near term. But he added that the company's strong late-stage test results for the experimental drug denosumab have been promising.

Denosumab is being studied as a potential treatment for osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple myeloma.

"While the [Aranesp and Epogen] franchise could be weak in 2007, the future looks strong with the pipeline drugs going well," said Kapoor.

Amgen is the world's leading biotech in terms of annual sales, ahead of Genentech (down $0.40 to $82.00, Charts).

Kapoor does not own Amgen stock and Montgomery does not conduct business with them. Top of page