U.S. drug giant Amgen raises full-year revenue outlook

Reuters

By Bill Berkrot

Oct 22 (Reuters) - Amgen Inc, which this monthclosed a nearly $10 billion acquisition of cancer drug makerOnyx Pharmaceuticals, reported higher-than-expected,third-quarter profit as results were helped by a large U.S.government order for one of its white blood cell boosters.

Amgen raised its full-year revenue forecast and pushed upthe low end of its earnings forecast range by 5 cents. Thecompany now expects 2013 adjusted earnings of $7.35 to $7.45 pershare and sees revenue of $18.3 billion to $18.5 billion, upfrom its previous view of $17.8 billion to $18.2 billion.

The raised revenue view includes expectations of sales inthe fourth quarter from Onyx products, including the newmultiple myeloma drug Kyprolis, the company said.

Kyprolis sales grew a modest 6 percent from the previousquarter to $65 million prior to the closing of the acquisition.The ultimate prospects for the drug are likely to hinge onresults of a clinical trial due next year that tests its useearlier in the course of the blood cancer, which couldsignificantly expand use of the medicine.

Excluding special items, the company earned $1.94 per share,topping analysts' average expectations of $1.77, according toThomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Without the $155 million government order for Neupogen, RBCCapital Markets analyst Michael Yee said, "the core business wasin line with expectations...

"The new products continue to grow and that's good. And theyraised guidance, but because they didn't raise the (earnings pershare) guidance by how much they beat, that would imply aslightly less robust quarter in Q4," Yee said.

Still, Amgen shares rose about 1 percent in after hourstrading to $117.50 from their Nasdaq close at $116.21.

The world's largest biotechnology company said on Tuesdaynet profit rose to $1.37 billion, or $1.79 per share, from $1.1billion, or $1.41 per share, a year ago.

Revenue for the quarter rose 10 percent to $4.74 billion,topping Wall Street estimates of $4.6 billion.

Combined sales of Neupogen and Neulasta, used to fightinfections by raising white blood cell count, jumped 18 percentto $1.6 billion, exceeding Wall Street estimates of $1.39billion.

Earlier on Tuesday the company announced that it hadrepurchased the sales rights to the two drugs in severalemerging markets from Roche Holding AG. It said salesin those countries last year were about $200 million.

Sales of Amgen's newer products Xgeva, to prevent fracturesin cancer that has spread to bones, and the related osteoporosisdrug Prolia, continued to see healthy growth.

Xgeva sales rose 30 percent to $261 million, in line withanalysts' expectations, while Prolia sales jumped 62 percent to$178 million, somewhat shy of Wall Street estimates of about$187 million.

The blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug, Enbrel, saw salesgrow 7 percent to $1.16 billion. Beginning next month, PfizerInc's share of Enbrel sales reverts back to Amgen andbecomes a 12 percent royalty payment. Amgen said that isexpected to add $800 million to operating income in 2014.

Amgen said it has fully enrolled patients for the pivotallate stage trials of its high profile cholesterol drug AMG-145,or evolucumab, from a new class of drugs known as PCSK9inhibitors. Results for the drug that will, for the first time,put Amgen into cardiovascular care are due early in 2014.

Analysts see the PCSK9 drugs in development as havingmultibillion-dollar potential. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in partnership with Sanofi and Pfizer arealso developing drugs in the class that have shown an ability todramatically lower "bad" LDL cholesterol.

"2014 is going to be more about Kyprolis and PCSK9. It willbe all about a new products story," RBC's Yee said.

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