Amgen 4Q profit down 9 pct, but sales up 3 pct

Amgen Inc. said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit fell 8.5 percent as its expenses for taxes and for producing and selling drugs rose faster than its revenue.

The world’s largest biotech company said its net income was $934 million, or $1.08 per share, down from $1.02 billion, also $1.08 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Amgen said it earned $1.04 billion, or $1.21 per share, down 6 percent from $1.1 billion, or $1.17 per share, in 2010’s fourth quarter. Its adjusted income excluded costs for severance payments, stock options, expenses related to selling a manufacturing plant and amortization of product technology rights acquired in a prior year.

The company’s quarterly revenue rose 3 percent to $3.97 billion from $3.84 billion.

Analysts on average expected adjusted earnings of $1.22 per share and revenue of $3.92 billion for the fourth quarter, according to FactSet.

“We’re off to a good start” in 2012,” CEO Kevin Sharer, who is stepping down in May, told analysts during a conference call

Amgen said it expects to earn $5.90 to $6.15 per share for 2012, excluding one-time items, and it forecast revenue of about $16.3 billion. Analysts were expecting $5.97 per share in adjusted earnings and $16.06 billion in revenue for the year.

During 2011, Amgen bought back $8.3 billion worth of its shares, which bolstered its earnings per share. The company plans to continue repurchasing shares and has authorized up to $5 billion in buybacks, Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Peacock said. He noted that Amgen introduced a dividend in September and increased it in December.

“Our plan is to increase the dividend meaningfully over time,” Peacock said.

Sales of Neulasta and Neupogen, for treating a decline of infection-fighting white blood cells caused by cancer and other disorders, rose in the U.S. but fell slightly in other markets. They brought in a total of $998 million and $321 million, respectively. They brought in a combined $1.32 billion, up 6.5 percent. Five newer drugs saw sales rise significantly.

But sales of Enbrel, the leading biologic drug for psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, were flat at $945 million. And sales of blockbuster anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen, which have had limits put on dosing and reimbursement due to safety concerns, each saw sales fall 15 percent or more, to a total of $1.02 billion.

Earlier Thursday, the maker of biologic drugs for cancer and blood disorders said it plans to buy cancer therapy developer Micromet Inc. for $1.16 billion in cash to boost its oncology pipeline. Founded in Germany and based in Rockville, Md., Micromet is developing an experimental antibody-based drug, blinatumomab. It’s currently in mid-stage testing to treat leukemia and in clinical development for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“It advances our pipeline and our R & D capability,” Sharer said of the deal. “It puts us on a path to our goals for 2012 and beyond.”

The purchase is Amgen’s largest since it bought BioVex Group last year in a deal worth up to $1 billion, including milestone payments.

For the full year, Amgen reported net income of $3.68 billion, or $4.04 per share, down 20 percent from $4.63 billion, or $4.79 per share in 2010. Adjusted income was $4.86 billion, or $5.33 per share, down 3 percent from $5.02 billion, or $5.21 per share. Revenue was up 3 percent to $15.58 billion, from $15.05 billion.

Analysts were expecting adjusted income of $5.33 per share on average and revenue of $15.51 billion.

Amgen shares were flat following the after-hours report. They ended regular trading Thursday down $1.13, or 1.6 percent, at $68.08.

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