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

By Bill Berkrot

Oct 22 (Reuters) - Amgen Inc, which this month closed a nearly $10 billion acquisition of cancer drug maker Onyx 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 up the low end of its earnings forecast range by 5 cents. The company now expects 2013 adjusted earnings of $7.35 to $7.45 per share and sees revenue of $18.3 billion to $18.5 billion, up from its previous view of $17.8 billion to $18.2 billion.

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

Kyprolis sales grew a modest 6 percent from the previous quarter to $65 million prior to the closing of the acquisition. The ultimate prospects for the drug are likely to hinge on results of a clinical trial due next year that tests its use earlier in the course of the blood cancer, which could significantly expand use of the medicine.

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

Without the $155 million government order for Neupogen, RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee said, "the core business was in line with expectations...

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

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

The world's largest biotechnology company said on Tuesday net profit rose to $1.37 billion, or $1.79 per share, from $1.1 billion, 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 fight infections by raising white blood cell count, jumped 18 percent to $1.6 billion, exceeding Wall Street estimates of $1.39 billion.

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

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

Xgeva sales rose 30 percent to $261 million, in line with analysts' 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 sales grow 7 percent to $1.16 billion. Beginning next month, Pfizer Inc's share of Enbrel sales reverts back to Amgen and becomes a 12 percent royalty payment. Amgen said that is expected to add $800 million to operating income in 2014.

Amgen said it has fully enrolled patients for the pivotal late stage trials of its high profile cholesterol drug AMG-145, or evolucumab, from a new class of drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors. 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 having multibillion-dollar potential. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in partnership with Sanofi and Pfizer are also developing drugs in the class that have shown an ability to dramatically lower "bad" LDL cholesterol.

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