An Amgen sign is seen at the company's office in South San Francisco, California October 21, 2013. The biopharmaceutical company reports earnings on Tuesday. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith  (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS HEALTH SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY LOGO) - RTX14J0R

An Amgen sign is seen at the company's office in South San Francisco, California October 21, 2013. The biopharmaceutical company reports earnings on Tuesday. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS HEALTH SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY LOGO) - ... RTX14J0R (Reuters)

Amgen Posts 51% Rise in Profit, Boosts Outlook

Earnings Dow Jones Newswires

Amgen Inc. (AMGN) said its first-quarter earnings rose 51% on broad sales growth and lower operating expenses as the pharmaceutical company benefited from previous streamlining activities.

Based on the better-than-expected results the Thousand Oaks, Calif., company raised its 2015 earnings guidance.

Amgen now expects per-share earnings of $9.35 to $9.65 on revenue of $20.9 billion to $21.3 billion, compared with its previous estimate for $9.05 to $9.40 on revenue of $20.8 billion to $21.3 billion.

The company also said it plans to file for regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Europe for its AMG 416 treatment for secondary hyperparathyroidism in the second half of 2015 and for Brodalumab for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis midyear in 2015. Amgen also said it plans to initiate this year a phase three study of its AMG 334 treatment for episodic migraine.

Investors also likely will be listening on the conference call for any details regarding the anticipated introduction this year of recently approved heart drug Corlanor and the expected approval of evolocumab-- its investigational treatment to lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol.

Investors also will be interested in any signals regarding Amgen's strategy to defend its anemia and neutropenia drugs from low-price biosimilar competition in the wake of the Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of Novartis AG's biosimilar for Amgen's Neupogen treatment for chemotherapy patients. The copycat medicine, Zarxio, is the first approved under a new regulatory framework designed to introduce competition for costly biotech drugs, which are produced in living cells and typically administered by infusion or injection.

Overall, Amgen reported a profit of $1.62 billion, or $2.11 a share, up from $1.07 billion, or $1.40 a share, a year earlier. Excluding acquisition-related charges and other items, per-share earnings rose to $2.48 from $1.87. Revenue increased 11% to $5.03 billion. Foreign-exchange rates had a negative impact of two percentage points. About 75% of Amgen sales are in the U.S.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected per-share profit of $2.10 and revenue of $4.91 billion.

In the latest quarter, sales of multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis surged 59% to $108 million on higher volume. Amgen gained the drug with its $10.4 billion acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2013.

Combined sales of Neulasta and Neupogen, both of which are used to prevent infections in patients receiving chemotherapy were flat at $1.38 billion. Neulasta sales rose 4% to $1.13 billion, mostly on higher prices, Neupogen sales decreased 15% to $246 million mostly because of competition in the U.S.

Sales of Amgen's osteoporosis drugs grew thanks to higher volume. Prolia revenue climbed 39% to $272 million, while XGeva sales jumped 22% to $340 million.

Sales of arthritis drug Enbrelgrew 13% to $1.12 billion on higher prices.

In the latest period, Amgen's total operating costs, excluding items, declined nearly 3% from a year earlier, including a 14% drop in research-and-development expenses.

During October, the company laid out streamlining plans aimed at generating as much as $1.5 billion in annual cost savings by 2018.

The company has faced pressure from activist Dan Loeb, who has urged Amgen to trim its research and development structure and potentially break up, separating its mature business from faster-growing operations, an idea proposed earlier by Sanford Bernstein analyst Geoffrey Porges.

(By Tess Stynes.)

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