Sales of Aranesp and Epogen were down 11% and 17%, respectively, yet newer products were able to overcome the anemia drug's never-ending slump, resulting in an overall 8% increase in product sales.
Management expects the impact of label changes to be completely incorporated by the middle of the year for Aranesp. Epogen's situation is a little more tenuous, since it has new competition from Affymax
It's also easy for management not to worry about Epogen because it's become an increasingly smaller portion of the biotech's portfolio. In the first quarter, sales of Epogen made up just 11% of product sales.
The sales leader, Neulasta and its older brother Neuopogen, saw sales increase 9% year over year. Coming up behind, Enbrel, which Amgen sells with Pfizer
The newer drugs are also selling growing well. Xgeva and Prolia have almost reached a run rate that would classify them as a combined blockbuster, but that still leaves them with plenty of upside. Osteoporosis, which Prolia treats, is a multibillion-dollar market, and Xgeva competes with Novartis' Zometa to prevent bone breaks in cancer patients where it's taking market share but still has more to grab.
Amgen isn't as exciting as it was in its heyday a few decades ago. But if the biotech can continue to put up 8% sales increases -- with or without stabilization of its anemia drug franchise -- and throw of a little dividend, it'll be worth holding.
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