As investors waited anxiously for Amgen's
The court ruled that patenting the protein "even when isolated... is not new." This ruling clears the way for Transkaryotic, which already has European Union approval to sell the drug, to start shipments as early as late 2005.
Making this long-running matter confusing for investors was last week's U.S. District Court rulingaffirming Amgen's patents for EPO. Although that ruling is being appealed, it gives Amgen the large U.S. market without any competition.
The hubbub took attention away from Amgen's stellar third quarter. Revenue increased 23%; earnings, 21%. Amgen even increased revenue and earnings guidance for the year, but that was in line with existing analyst estimates. Investors yawned and sent the stock down 5%.
The world's largest biotechnology company used to warrant a significantly higher price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Not today. Amgen, still a growth company, trades for 19 times 2005 earnings estimates.
To keep growth going, Amgen recently received approval to manufacture fast-growing Enbrel in a Genentech
The company also has a high-profile osteoporosis drug entering phase 3 trials. Osteoporosis, a market approaching $3 billion in annual sales, will not be like EPO. Competitors Merck
While the EPO news is disheartening, Amgen continues to be a cash machine. That said, the stock, down 10% over the last 52 weeks, has not rewarded shareholders over the last five years. Call it "multiple contraction," but realize that Amgen, with great products, is value priced at the market's multiple.
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Fool contributor W.D. Crotty does not own stock in any of the companies mentioned.