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Amgen's first-quarter profit rises 5%

The biotech giant's earnings were boosted by solid sales overall that made up for continuing declines in its anemia drugs.

April 25, 2012|By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
  • Amgen President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Bradway will replace longtime Chief Executive Kevin Sharer next month.
Amgen President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Bradway will replace… (Jonathan Ernst, Bloomberg )

Biotech giant Amgen Inc. reported a 5% increase in first-quarter profit, lifted by solid sales overall that helped offset continued weakness for its anemia treatments.

The Thousand Oaks company reported profit of $1.18 billion, or $1.48 a share, for the three months ended March 31, compared with net income of $1.13 billion, or $1.20 a share, a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter grew 9% to $4.05 billion.

The results topped analysts' expectations for earnings per share of $1.46, excluding one-time items, and sales of $3.94 billion.

Next month, longtime Chief Executive Kevin Sharer, 64, will step down and pass the reins to Robert Bradway, 49, who is president and chief operating officer.

On a conference call with analysts and investors, Bradway said he's pursuing growth through product innovation and expansion internationally, particularly in markets such as Japan. The company reiterated its full-year profit guidance of $5.90 to $6.15 a share, excluding certain items.

Sales of Enbrel, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, rose 7% in the quarter to $938 million. The company attributed some of that growth to its TV advertising campaign featuring professional golfer Phil Mickelson persuading more patients to ask their doctor about the drug. Sales of Neulasta and Neupogen, which are given to cancer patients during chemotherapy, increased 9% to $1.34 billion.

Those results helped compensate for further deterioration in Amgen's anemia treatments, Epogen and Aranesp, which have been hurt by safety concerns leading to fewer prescriptions. Sales for those two drugs declined 14% to $964 million in the quarter.

The company has been looking to boost its growth and drug pipeline through acquisitions. Last month, it acquired biotech company Micromet Inc. for $1.16 billion to expand its oncology business. This month, Amgen agreed to pay $315 million for KAI Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a drug to treat a common side effect of kidney disease.

Amgen remained bullish on the prospects for Prolia and Xgeva, two of its newest drugs. Prolia is commonly used for osteoporosis, and Xgeva is aimed at preventing fractures in cancerous bones. Together, revenue for the drugs was $241 million in the first quarter, up from $69 million a year earlier.

Amgen shares gained 34 cents, or 0.5%, to $68.63 in trading before the earnings announcement. The share price moved up slightly in after-hours trading.

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