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Strong Numbers Ignite Amgen

Shares of Amgen (AMGN) were hitting a 52-week high Wednesday, a day after the biotech company reported big second-quarter numbers and again raised its forecast for the fiscal year.

Recently Amgen was up $8.09, or 11%, to $78.61, and the stock has been as high as $79.27 in active trading. The best close for the last year is $72. The Amex Biotechnology Index was gaining 2%.

With the move, it passed Genentech (DNA) to claim the title of biggest biotech by market capitalization.

The Thousand Oaks, Calif., company posted adjusted earnings of 88 cents a share for the quarter, up from 62 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted net income rose to $1.1 billion from $809 million a year ago.

When calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, earnings per share climbed to 82 cents from 57 cents in the same quarter last year, and GAAP net income was $1 billion.

During the second quarter, total product sales increased 26% to $3.1 billion from $2.4 billion last year. U.S. sales totaled $2.5 billion, and international sales were $540 million. Total revenue grew 23% in the second quarter to $3.2 billion.

For the second time this year, Amgen raised its full-year revenue growth and earnings guidance. The company expects total revenue to grow at a mid-to-high teens percent rate this year and said adjusted earnings should be $3.10 to $3.20 a share, compared with its prior prediction of $2.80 to $2.90. Earlier this year, Amgen had initially offered profit guidance of $2.70 to $2.85 and said revenue growth would be in the high single digits to low teens.

On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were looking for a profit of 72 cents a share and revenue of just under $3 billion in the second quarter. For the full year, the consensus estimates are for earnings of $2.89 a share and revenue of $12.2 billion.

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