Amgen posts 1Q sales, profit jumps, raises profit forecasts

AP News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2016 5:05 PM
Amgen posts 1Q sales, profit jumps, raises profit forecasts

Amgen beat and then raised profit expectations after surging sales of its medicines, tight cost controls and other factors lifted the biologic drugmaker's first-quarter profit by 17 percent.

The maker of osteoporosis drug Prolia on Thursday reported net income of $1.9 billion, or $2.50 per share, trouncing forecasts for the sixth straight quarter. Adjusted profit was $2.90 per share, an impressive 30 cents above what analysts surveyed by FactSet expected.

Revenue rose 10 percent, to $5.53 billion, for the world's biggest maker of biologic drugs, which are "manufactured" in living cells.

As a result, the Thousand Oaks, California company increased its 2016 financial forecasts. It now expects adjusted earnings per share in the range of $10.85 to $11.20, up from $10.60 to $11, and sales of $22.2 billion to $22.6 billion, up from $22 billion to $22.5 billion.

Amgen Inc. shares slipped 56 cents to $160 in after-hours trading after falling 44 cents in regular trading Thursday.

"We are off to a strong start in 2016 ... and laying groundwork for our long-term growth with innovative new product launches globally," Chief Executive Robert Bradway said in a statement.

While sales of Amgen's older drugs have been growing steadily, some are nearing the end of their patents and could face competition in coming years from "biosimilars." Those are slightly cheaper near-copies of biologic drugs that are just starting to come on the market in the U.S.

In hopes of counteracting eventual sales declines for those older medicines, Amgen is developing its own biosimilar versions of some rivals' drugs and has launched four new drugs in the past 1 ½ years. The company also has a war chest of nearly $35 billion in cash and marketable securities that it could use for acquisitions.

For now, sales and growth are mainly coming from the company's three top drugs.

Enbrel, for rheumatoid arthritis and other immune disorders, posted sales of $1.4 billion in the first quarter, up 24 percent from last year due to a price hike and wholesalers stocking more inventory. Anemia drugs Neulasta and Aranesp saw sales rise 4 percent to $1.2 billion and 11 percent to $532 million, respectively. Aranesp, a newer, improved version of Epogen, benefited from many customers switching to the newer drug. That and increased competition cut Epogen sales by 44 percent to $300 million.

Sales of Prolia, touted in "break-a-leg" commercials starring actress Blythe Danner, posted sales of $352 million, up 29 percent.

Two of Amgen's newest drugs — Repatha, for treating sky-high cholesterol uncontrollable by standard medicines, and Blincyto, for a rare leukemia in patients with a particular genetic variation — posted first-quarter sales of $16 million and $27 million, respectively. But Corlanor, a drug Amgen touted as the first new heart failure medicine in a dozen years, still has sales too small to report.

Besides the higher sales of most of its drugs, Amgen benefited from licensing global rights to an experimental drug to another, unnamed company, a deal that accounted for nearly half of its $288 million in reported "other income."

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