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It's been a good year for biotechnology giant
Amgen(AMGN - Get Report); shares of the $69 billion firm have rallied close to 40% since the start of 2012. While Amgen may not get the attention of some of its big(ger) pharma peers, the firm is a blockbuster maker, with more than five drugs under its belt that each bring in over $1 billion in annual sales.
Currently, Amgen pays out a 36-cent quarterly dividend, adding up to a 1.6% yield at current price levels. Now I think this firm is due to give investors a raise.
>>4 Biotech Stocks Under $10 Moving Higher
Amgen's expertise in biotechnology-based therapeutics is unique among firms its size. It gives the firm an advantage over smaller rivals in the amount of capital it's able to throw at a project. Like its more traditional peers, the firm does face risks from patent drop-offs over the next few years, but it also boasts an attractive pipeline of around 20 new drug compounds. That pipeline should help to make up for generic competition on Amgen's existing drugs.
Meanwhile, the company is generating tons of cash. Around a third of each sales dollar Amgen earns gets converted into free cash, the result of hefty profit margins and economies of scale in Amgen's business. That free cash gives Amgen plenty of ammunition for a dividend hike this quarter.