Amgen hikes 2015 forecast after 2Q increase in profit, sales

AP News
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Posted: Jul 30, 2015 6:51 PM
Amgen hikes 2015 forecast after 2Q increase in profit, sales

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Amgen Inc. shares jumped in extended trading after the maker of osteoporosis drug Prolia easily beat Wall Street's second-quarter profit expectations and hiked its 2015 financial forecast.

Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, California, said Thursday it sees strong momentum for the second half of the year, with three new drugs launching, new approvals for a couple expected soon and experimental drugs for migraines, heart failure and preventing bone fractures in or near the final rounds of patient testing.

The maker of blockbuster biologic rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel reported that net income rose to $1.65 billion, or $2.15 per share, due to higher revenue and restrained spending.

Excluding one-time charges, adjusted income was $1.98 billion, or $2.57 per share, 14 cents more than analysts were expecting.

Revenue climbed 3.7 percent to $5.37 billion, edging past the $5.32 billion analysts expected.

A year ago, the company earned $1.55 billion, or $2.01 per share, on revenue of $5.18 billion.

"The question is, 'What do you do after you've just had a blowout quarter?'" said analyst Steve Brozak, president of WBB Securities.

He said Amgen's strong results and cash hoard, plus the recent appointment to its board of a longtime pharmaceutical industry executive known for dealmaking, Fred Hassan, will fuel speculation Amgen is mulling possible mergers as a way to continue its growth.

"Are they the takeover-ers or the takeover-ees?" he wondered.

During the quarter, sales of Amgen's newest medicines— Prolia, related drug XGeva for preventing bone damage from tumors and Kyprolis for multiple myeloma patients who have failed other therapies — all rose by more than 10 percent.

Kyprolis, approved in the U.S., awaits European approval. Repatha, the first in a new class of expensive biologic drugs for lowering cholesterol in patients not helped enough by statin pills such as Lipitor, was approved in Europe this month and could win U.S. approval in late August.

Meanwhile, leukemia drug Blincyto and Corlanor, the first new chronic heart failure drug in a decade, are launching, and longtime mainstay Enbrel saw revenue rise 8 percent, mainly due to price hikes, to a total of $1.35 billion.

Together, Enbrel and the new medicines offset declines in older Amgen medicines for anemia in chemotherapy and kidney dialysis patients and for preventing infections in chemotherapy patients.

One of those, infection fighter Neupogen, is the only drug in the U.S. with an approved biosimilar version — Zarxio from Novartis AG, which is to go on sale Sept. 2 at a somewhat lower price. Biosimilars are like generics but aren't identical to the original medicine because the drugs are produced in living cells rather than by mixing chemicals.

Neupogen sales already have been falling steadily since a similar drug, Granix from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., was approved late in 2013, and fell another 14 percent in the quarter, to $256 million. Still, that's less than a quarter of the $1.16 billion posted by Neulasta, which is favored because it needs to be injected far less frequently.

Amgen hiked its 2015 adjusted earnings per share forecast to $9.55 to $9.80, up from $9.35 to $9.65. It also nudged up its revenue forecast, to a range of $21.1 billion to $21.4 billion from between $20.9 billion and $21.3 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect earnings per share of $9.62 on revenue of $21.13 billion, on average.

In after-hours trading, Amgen shares rose $3.56, or 2.1 percent, to $175.25.

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Follow Linda A. Johnson at www.twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma