Cost controls help offset lower Amgen first-quarter drug sales

Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:35pm EDT
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By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) - Amgen Inc (AMGN.O: Quote) on Wednesday reported higher-than-expected first-quarter profit as cost controls helped offset a sharp drop in sales of Enbrel, its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drug.

But an earnings beat based on lower expenses rather than sales growth did not please investors and Amgen shares fell 3 percent to $159.50.

Sales of Enbrel, faced with increased competition and slowing growth in the rheumatology and dermatology sectors, dropped 15 percent to $1.18 billion, below Wall Street estimates of about $1.38 billion. Enbrel has traditionally been a growth driver for Amgen, although the company had cautioned that pricing pressure would likely hit the franchise this year.

"The biggest weakness on the top line was definitely Enbrel. It's in decline," said Cowen and Co analyst Eric Schmidt.

Commercial operations chief Tony Hooper said Amgen was optimistic Enbrel sales would rebound in coming quarters and be "a significant cash-flow generator for many years to come."

Total sales fell 1 percent to $5.5 billion, shy of analysts' consensus estimates of $5.6 billion.

Excluding items, Amgen had adjusted earnings of $3.15 per share, topping analysts' average expectations by 15 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Amgen maintained its full-year revenue forecast of $22.3 billion to $23.1 billion. It raised the low end of its adjusted 2017 earnings forecast by 20 cents to $12.00 per share, keeping the top end at $12.60.   Continued...

An Amgen sign is seen at the company's office in South San Francisco, California October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo