Amgen Boosts Outlook as Profit Rises 50%

Amgen Inc. raised its 2015 guidance as the biotechnology company reported that its third-quarter earnings rose 50% on stronger revenue led by Enbrel and other key drugs.

The Thousand Oaks, Calif., company's per-share earnings, excluding one-time items, and revenue for the latest quarter topped expectations.

The company raised its 2015 per-share earnings estimate to $9.95 to $10.10 on revenue of $21.4 billion to $21.6 billion, compared with per-share profit of $9.55 to $9.80 on revenue of $21.1 billion to $21.4 billion.

For 2016, Amgen issued preliminary guidance for per-share earnings of $10.35 to $10.75 and revenue of $21.7 billion to $22.3 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected per-share profit of $10.76 and revenue of $22.17 billion.

Amgen reported continued progress on its drug pipeline, with several launches under way, including cholesterol drug Repatha, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved in late August.

Repatha belongs to a powerful new class of drugs known as PCSK9 agents that promise help for patients who have struggled to control their cholesterol using older statin medicines. The drug faces competition from the first new drug in the class, Praluent, from Sanofi SA and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., which the FDA approved in July.

In its earnings release Wednesday, Amgen didn't break out sales figures for Repatha, or for its new heart-drug, Corlanor, which received FDA approval in April.

Amgen's Kyprolis gained FDA approval in July as a combination therapy as a second-line treatment for patients with multiple myeloma, providing access to a broader population of patients. During the quarter, Kyprolis sales rose 46% to $137 million on volume growth.

Kyprolis, which Amgen obtained with its $10.4 billion acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2013, had initially received FDA approval in 2012 as a third-line treatment.

Overall, Amgen reported a profit of $1.86 billion, or $2.44 a share, up from $1.24 billion, or $1.61 a share, a year earlier. Excluding acquisition-related expenses and other items, per-share earnings rose to $2.72 from $2.30. Revenue increased 14% to $5.72 billion. Currency fluctuations had a negative impact of two percentage points on the growth.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected per-share profit of $2.38 and revenue of $5.33 billion.

Sales of Enbrel rose 30% to $1.46 billion. Sales of osteoporosis drugs Prolia and Xgeva also improved, with Prolia sales increasing 25% to $320 million and Xgeva sales rising 19% to $378 million.

Amgen is among the health-care companies that has been targeted by a shareholder activist, in its case Dan Loeb and his hedge fund Third Point Capital LLC. The company has subsequently cut costs and raised its dividend, while looking to its pipeline of potential new products for growth.

By Tess Stynes