Amgen Tops Analysts’ Profit Estimates, Raises 2015 Forecast

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Amgen Inc. posted second-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates, driven by higher sales of rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel and lower operating expenses. The biotech company also raised its revenue and earnings forecast for the year.

Profit excluding one-time items rose to $2.57 a share, while analysts had predicted $2.43 on average, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue increased 3.7 percent to $5.37 billion, the company said Thursday in a statement. Analysts had estimated $5.31 billion.

The drugmaker also raised its forecast for the year, predicting adjusted profit per share of $9.55 to $9.80, and sales of $21.1 billion to $21.4 billion. Previously the Thousand Oaks, California-based company said 2015 earnings would be $9.35 to $9.65 per share, with revenue of $20.9 billion to $21.3 billion.

“We remain on track with our plans to grow the business and invest for the future while transforming to a more agile and efficient operating model,” said David Meline, Amgen’s chief financial officer, on a conference call with analysts.

Sales of Enbrel, Amgen’s top drug, rose 8.4 percent to $1.35 billion, beating estimates of $1.25 billion. Its anemia drugs, Epogen and Aranesp, both fell short of expectations. Epogen sales slipped 4.1 percent as customers shifted to Aranesp, while Aranesp dropped 7.4 percent, affected by changing foreign exchange rates, according to the drugmaker’s statement.

Controlling Costs

Research and development costs fell 6.2 percent from a year earlier, while selling, general and administrative expenses rose 1.7 percent. The drugmaker began a major restructuring last year, cutting back on staff and facilities to achieve as much as $1.5 billion in annual savings and a 15 percentage point increase in adjusted operating margin by 2018. Second-quarter margin widened to 48.8 percent from 46.9 percent a year earlier.

Amgen also added Fred Hassan, a partner and managing director of private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, to its board, the company said in a statement. Hassan was previously chairman and chief executive officer of Schering-Plough Corp.

Amgen is awaiting U.S. regulatory approval for Repatha, a cholesterol-lowering drug. It belongs to a class of medicine called PCSK9 inhibitors that are designed to help patients who can’t get their LDL, or bad, cholesterol under control with statins alone. The injection already has received European approval. Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. had a related drug approved in the U.S. on July 24.

Analysts are waiting to see how broad a population will be allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use Repatha. The drug’s label will be a key factor in determining its potential sales.

Biosimilar Pipeline

Amgen also has invested in developing biosimilars, drugs that mimic other biotechnology medicines, creating one of the most ambitious pipelines in the industry. It plans to have as many as five biosimilars on the market by 2019.

At the same time, Amgen itself is under threat from other copycats. Novartis AG’s version of Amgen’s drug Neupogen was approved in the U.S. in March, becoming the first biosimilar to clear that hurdle, and it may begin selling in the U.S. in September.

Second-quarter net income rose 6.9 percent to $1.65 billion, or $2.15 a share.

The company’s shares gained 2.2 percent to $175.50 in late trading, after rising less than 1 percent to $171.69 at the New York close. They have surged 32 percent in the past year, compared with a 47 percent increase in the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index.

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