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Amgen's Earnings Rise 14% to $1 Billion

April 19, 2006|From the Associated Press

Amgen Inc. on Tuesday posted a $1-billion profit for the first quarter, a 14% increase driven by strong demand for its anemia-fighting drugs.

The biotechnology company, the world's biggest by sales, said it earned 82 cents a share in the quarter ended March 31, compared with $854 million, or 67 cents, a year earlier.

Thousand Oaks-based Amgen said that without special expenses, including the cost of employee stock options, it would have earned 91 cents a share, compared with 72 cents a year earlier. On that basis, the earnings beat Wall Street analysts' expectations by 2 cents, according to Thomson Financial.

The company said that sales growth of its rheumatoid arthritis drug, Enbrel, were slowing and that more companies were offering competing medicines.

For the quarter, Enbrel rang up $658 million in sales, an 11% increase over the $592 million in sales in the first quarter last year. The drug's sales growth has been a disappointment for Amgen, even after the Food and Drug Administration expanded Enbrel's approval to treat the skin condition psoriasis.

"With the exception of Enbrel, product performance was in line with expectation," Executive Vice President George Morrow said. Morrow said that Enbrel slipped from a 43% to a 41% share of the rheumatoid arthritis market and that Amgen saw a slowing in sales after it stopped airing television advertisements in May.

When Amgen announced the purchase of the Seattle-based biotechnology rival Immunex Corp. and its drug Enbrel in 2001 for about $17 billion, Chief Executive Kevin Sharer said he hoped Enbrel would account for $3 billion in annual sales by 2005.

The company reported a 14% increase in overall revenue for the quarter to $3.2 billion, but that missed analysts' expectations of $3.53 billion.

Still, demand for the company's franchise anemia-fighting drugs remained high as Aranesp recorded $893 million in sales in the first quarter, a 24% increase over the same quarter last year. Epogen recorded $604 million, a 4% increase over last year.

The earnings were released after the stock market closed. Amgen stock closed up $1.36 a share at $70.97. It fell to $70.40 in after-hours trading.

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