Biotech Stock Roundup: Amgen Plans Job Cuts, Regeneron's Eylea Continues to Impress

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Last week, earnings remained in focus with several companies reporting their second quarter results. While Amgen’s (AMGN) results remained impressive, Vertex (VRTX) posted a wider loss. Meanwhile, Regeneron (REGN) missed earnings expectations by a pretty wide margin though Eylea sales continued to impress.

Among all this, the Ebola outbreak is also making headlines and has brought quite a few biotech companies into the limelight for their experimental Ebola disease treatments.

Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories

1. Amgen was in the news not just for its impressive second quarter performance but also for its decision to implement a restructuring plan and cut 2,400-2,900 positions (12% - 15% of the total work force). Investors viewed the company’s restructuring plan favorably with shares gaining 5.4% -- the restructuring plan should make the company leaner and more cost-efficient. Amgen also raised its earnings and revenue guidance for 2014. All in all, it was a good earnings report from Amgen (Read more: Amgen Beats on Q2 Earnings & Revs, Ups View & Plans Job Cuts).

2. Vertex reported a wider loss in the second quarter with revenues also lagging expectations. Shares were down on the earnings report. The company maintained its outlook for 2014. Cystic fibrosis treatment, Kalydeco, should benefit from the recent approval of eight additional mutations in the EU – this provides access to 250 eligible patients (Read more: Vertex Pharmaceuticals Posts Wider Q2 Loss, Maintains View).

3. Regeneron’s second quarter earnings missed expectations by a wide margin. Revenues, however, surpassed expectations with eye drug, Eylea, performing well in the quarter. Eylea should see accelerated growth in the second half of the year thanks to the recent FDA approval for diabetic macular edema (:DME). The drug could gain FDA approval for a fourth indication – macular edema following branch retinal vein occlusion – in October. The company is also preparing to file for approval of its PCSK9 inhibitor, alirocumab (Read more: Regeneron Misses on Earnings in Q2, Eylea Drives Sales Beat).

4. The recent Ebola disease outbreak has brought quite a few biotech companies into focus. One of the companies involved in the development of an anti-Ebola virus treatment is Canada-based Tekmira (TKMR). Although Tekmira’s phase I candidate, TKM-Ebola is currently under clinical hold, hopes are up that an early resolution of the hold could materialize given the urgent need for Ebola virus treatments (Read more: Tekmira Pharma in Focus as the World Awaits Ebola Treatment).

Performance

Last week, Regeneron led the major biotechs with its price increasing 9.42% on Eylea’s performance and the earlier-than-expected approval for an additional indication. Amgen’s shares were up 3.71% with investors reacting positively to the company’s results and restructuring plan.

Vertex was the biggest loser, with shares declining 8.96%, followed by Biogen (down 4.83%). Regeneron was the biggest gainer over the last six months as well (up 18.20%). The NASDAQ Biotechnology Index was down 1.21% last week (See the last biotech stock roundup here: Gilead's Sovaldi & Biogen's Tecfidera Impressive Run Continues).

Company Last Week Last 6 Months
AMGN 3.71% 12.31%
BIIB -4.83% 8.44%
GILD -0.77% 18.07%
CELG -1.32% 14.77%
REGN 9.42% 18.20%
ALXN -4.47% 1.28%
VRTX -8.96% 12.39%

What's Next in the Biotech World?

Although second quarter earnings season is almost coming to an end, some companies are yet to report results. Later this week, companies like Medivation (MDVN) and Auxilium (AUXL) will be reporting. Meanwhile, The Medicines Co. (MDCO) has an important regulatory event coming up with the FDA expected to respond on the approval status of antibiotic candidate, Orbactiv.

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