Amgen Quarterly Net Profit Rises 5%


Biotechnology company Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) posted a better-than-expected first-quarter profit as product sales increased 8 percent, its tax rate fell and it bought back shares.

But the company left its full-year outlook unchanged and its shares were flat in after-hours trading.

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"It was a solid quarter, but maybe not quite as good as the headlines read," said Cowen & Co analyst Eric Schmidt. "I think much of the upside to the top line came from other revenue, not product sales ... The other reason for the better EPS was of course the share count reduction."

Amgen said it bought back around 21 million shares of its stock in the first quarter, leaving $3.6 billion remaining under its authorized stock repurchase program.

Over the past year, Amgen has stepped up efforts to return cash to shareholders -- by both buying back shares and initiating dividend payments.

Excluding items, the world's largest biotech company earned $1.61 per share, compared with the average Wall Street forecast of $1.45 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

First quarter net income rose 5 percent to $1.18 billion.

Quarterly product sales climbed to $3.9 billion from $3.62 billion a year earlier. Sales of Xgeva, used for preventing fractures in cancer that has spread to the bones, rose 14 percent from the prior quarter to $153 million, but the closely-watched total fell short of the average analyst forecast of $159 million, according to numbers compiled by BMO Capital Markets.

Sales of white blood cell-boosters Neupogen and Neulasta totaled $1.34 billion, ahead of the consensus forecast of $1.30 billion. Arthritis drug Enbrel had first-quarter sales of $938 million, also beating the consensus forecast of $903 million.

The Thousand Oaks, California company said its adjusted tax rate for the first quarter fell to 15.6 percent from 16.6 percent a year earlier due mainly to expenses, an adjustment to the U.S. healthcare reform fee and foreign tax credits.

For the full year, the company said it still expects to earn $5.90 to $6.15 per share on revenue of $16.1 billion to $16.5 billion, excluding items. Wall Street is estimating full-year earnings of $6.07 per share and revenue of $16.25 billion.

Shares of Amgen, which have gained 28 percent over the past 12 months, closed at $68.63 on Nasdaq.

The company, which has seen stalled earnings growth in recent years as safety concerns clipped sales of its flagship anemia drugs, will have a new Chief Executive Officer next month when current Chief Operating Officer Bob Bradway moves into the post and current CEO Kevin Sharer retires .