Amgen's Cannibalistic Ways

If you don't think that Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN  ) is excited about its future, check out what the company is piling on its plate. The biotech giant will be earmarking half of next year's revenue to launch a $5 billion share buyback.

It certainly didn't need to go hog-wild at the self-gnawing buffet to make the point. While its stock has dipped slightly from this summer's highs, the shares have already doubled from last year's lows.

That certainly sets the company apart from troubled drugmakers such as Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) and Schering-Plough (NYSE: SGP  ) . Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY  ) is probably a dividend cut away from a date with gravity.

For Amgen, its cancer treatment and anemia-battling drugs have given the company a solid one-two financial punch over the years. Neupogen and Epogen still make up the lion's share of the company's revenue pie, though its new products and promising pipeline aren't looking too shabby either.

Amgen expects to earn between $2.30 and $2.40 a share next year. While the company is taking accounting liberties by writing off acquisition-related amortization expenses to arrive at that figure (just subtract $0.17 a share to arrive at the company's more appropriate GAAP profit guidance), it still represents healthy double-digit percentage growth from this year's results.

While analysts were already camping out at the high end of that range, Amgen's resilience commands attention. Picking up Amgen for less than 30 times next year's earnings may not seem like much of a bargain right now, but keep an eye on it. Any sector weakness may temporarily knock the stock lower. At that point, following Amgen's lead and pushing a tray behind it at the buffet may prove to be an appetizingly rewarding move.

Do you think that Amgen's an attractive buy at current prices? Will the biotech sector bounce back the way it blazed through the 1990s next year? All this and more -- on the Amgendiscussion board. Only on Fool.com.


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