After the markets closed on Thursday biopharma pioneer Amgen
Earnings per share inched up a measly $0.07 from the second quarter of 2006 to $1.12. Putting the squeeze on Amgen's earnings growth was the decline in sales of anemia product Aranesp following the negative FDA advisory panel meeting on the compound earlier in the year. With the anemia drug woes, negative study results for oncology compound Vectibix inhibiting its sales growth, and only Enbrel growing enough to offset these issues, revenue was up just 3% in the second quarter versus the year-ago period.
The pain for Amgen's anemia franchise isn't over yet, with an FDA advisory committee review coming up in September to discuss the class of drugs. In the international arena a biosimilar product from Novartis
Things aren't all bad for Amgen. In conjunction with the earnings release it reported positive phase 3 study results for potential blockbuster osteoporosis drug candidate denosumab. This pipeline product represents one of Amgen's last chances to return to strong top-line driven earnings growth in the next several years now that its anemia products are under such competitive and regulatory attacks.
It's also worth remembering that Amgen has the option to cut millions of dollars from its R&D programs to hold up its earnings over the upcoming challenging months. Whether shares of Amgen look like a good value at these discounted prices, though, really depends on how low you think sales of its flagship anemia products will go and how effective denosumab may be in its clinical studies.
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