On its fourth-quarter earnings conference call yesterday, Amgen
OK, all unfair digs aside, Amgen did actually manage to pull off a 3.5% increase in revenue for 2007, even with sales of its anemia franchise drugs Aranesp and Epogen down a combined 17% year over year in the fourth quarter. Adjusted earnings per share, excluding stock-option expenses and other one-time charges, were $4.29 for the year.
Most of the sales declines with Amgen's anemia drugs occurred in the second half of last year, following the adverse FDA advisory panel hearings, label changes, and revised Medicare and Medicaid payment coverage of the drugs. And the advisory-panel fun isn't over yet for Amgen's anemia drugs; in March, another advisory committee hearing will be held to discuss the safety of these drugs. This could result in further negative label changes in the United States.
Taking into account the outcome of this upcoming panel hearing, Amgen is guiding for its 2008 top-line revenue numbers to come in (at best) slightly lower than its 2007 revenue. Adjusted earnings are also expected to be flat at best, in the range of $4 to $4.30 per share in 2008.
Either because Amgen thinks its stock is undervalued, or because it wants to juice year-over-year earnings-per-share comparisons, the company repurchased $5.1 billion worth of outstanding shares at an average cost of approximately $58.60 a share last year. Obviously, with shares trading in the $48 range today, it looks like Amgen has squandered shareholder cash with these share repurchases, but investors should give the company more time before calling for the CFO's head on a stake over these costly share repurchases.
Some individual products did perform well for Amgen last year. Arthritis treatment Enbrel, for which it is partnered with Wyeth
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