Amgen 4Q profit rises 1 percent with sales steady

Biotechnology company Amgen Inc. said Monday its profit rose 1 percent in the fourth quarter, as the company reported mixed results for its anemia drugs, but said sales of its other drugs held steady.

Sales of one of Amgen’s anemia drugs, Aranesp, sank after research linked it to an increased risk of stroke in some patients. But sales of Epogen, its other anemia drug, improved due to an increase in potential patients, use of larger doses, and higher sales prices. Sales of both have been under pressure to previous safety concerns.

Total sales of Amgen’s Aranesp and Epogen, which are used to treat anemia in chemotherapy patients and patients on kidney dialysis, held steady at $1.35 billion. Amgen said sales of its drugs Neulasta and Neupogen, which are used to prevent infections in chemotherapy patients, rose 2 percent to $1.2 billion.

The Thousand Oaks, Calif., company says profit rose to $931 million, or 92 cents per share, from $925 million, or 87 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, profit fell 5 percent to $1.05 per share. Revenue grew 2 percent, to $3.81 billion from $3.75 billion.

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Analysts expected $1.13 per share and $3.85 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters.

Revenue from Aranesp and Epogen began falling more than two years ago after studies linked the drugs to side effects including faster tumor growth, which limited their use in cancer patients. In October 2009, a study linked Aranesp to increased risk of stroke, and Amgen said its U.S. sales dropped 20 percent. Worldwide sales fell 8 percent to $648 million. Epogen revenue grew 9 percent to $703 million because of an increase in

Sales of Amgen’s rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drug Enbrel slipped $1 million, to $912 million. The company also reported greater sales of its hyperparathyroidism drug Sensipar and cancer drug Vectibix.

For the year, Amgen’s profit rose 14 percent, to $4.6 billion, or $4.51 per share, from $4.05 billion, or $3.77 per share. The company said it earned $4.91 per share excluding one-time items. Revenue slid 2 percent to $14.64 billion from $15 billion in 2008.

The company’s 2010 forecast came out ahead of Wall Street estimates. Amgen said it expects a profit of $5.05 to $5.25 per share in 2010, and $15.1 billion to $15.5 billion in revenue.

Analysts expected $5.12 per share and $15.31 billion, on average.

In aftermarket trading, Amgen shares rose 35 cents to $56.06 after closing the regular session down 89 cents.

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