The problem with releasing preliminary earnings at the JPMorgan biotech confab is that it takes a little luster out of the real earnings release.

Still, who's going to complain when you've got numbers like Celgene's (NASDAQ:CELG)? The company even came in at the high end of its preliminary non-GAAP EPS range of $1.55-$1.56 for 2008 -- not that the extra penny was a make-it-or-break-it item. The EPS came in a whopping 117% higher than 2007, after adjusting for reasonable things like acquisitions and things the company really shouldn't pull out, like share-based compensation.

And next year's earnings growth, while down considerably, still looks good compared to its peers.

Company

2008 EPS*

2009 Year-Over-Year EPS* Guidance

Celgene

$1.56

31%-38%

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN)

$4.55

0%-4%

Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD)

$2.22

Company doesn't give EPS guidance, but revenue is expected to grow 16% to 18%.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY)

$1.74

6%-15%

Source: Company press releases.
*EPS are non-GAAP as presented by the companies.

Adjusted revenue is expected to increase 20%, with most of that coming from growth of Revlimid as it continues to grow sales in treating blood cancers -- multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).

Celgene is pretty expensive based on 2008 adjusted EPS -- especially in this value-laden market. Buying high-growth, high-P/E companies like Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) and Monsanto (NYSE:MON) has come back to bite many investors over the last year as multiples have come back to earth, bringing their share prices down with them. But no one is going to stop using Celgene's cancer-fighting products just because the economy is in the tank, so the company should have no problem hitting or even exceeding its growth estimates the way it has before.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. JPMorgan is a recommendation of Income Investor. The Fool has a disclosure policy.