Celgene's (NASDAQ:CELG) year-end earnings reports are always anticlimactic. It's not that 22% year-over-year growth is anything to sneeze at, but with the company having offered up preliminary revenue and earnings numbers at the JPMorgan Health Care Conference early in the month, the actual announcement isn't much more than a formality.

That doesn't mean that investors should just ignore it, though. The conference call offers an opportunity to get updated information about what Celgene is up to.

With any company it's the future, not the past, that should matter to investors, but that's especially true for small drugmakers like Celgene, Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AMLN) and Onyx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ONXX), as well as somewhat larger ones like Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB). Earnings are great -- if you can get them -- but it's the future drugs that will drive the companies' share prices.

For Celgene, the future is 12 compounds in clinical development. The company is running a whopping 20 phase 3 and pivotal clinical trials for its compounds, some of which are being run to try to expand sales of existing drugs. It also has 16 preclinical compounds, but those are far enough away from adding to Celgene's revenue that it's fair for investors to ignore them for now.

Celgene's future growth isn't entirely homegrown; the company has  used its cash flow from operations, which came in at about $1 billion last year, to grow externally. It bought Pharmion in 2008, and Vidaza, which came with it, is growing nicely: Sales were up 67% in the fourth quarter. Celgene's newest purchase, Gloucester, came with an approved drug, lymphoma treatment Istodax, which Celgene plans to launch next quarter. Don't expect sales to be out of this world just yet; to make a serious impact on Celgene's revenue, Istodax likely will need to be approved for another type of lymphoma -- a clinical trial is already in progress, with results due this year.

Celgene trades at a premium to many of its mid-sized counterparts, but considering its future, it certainly deserves it.

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