Amgen Is a Penny Light

It cuts an antibody license pact with Genentech.
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Amgen's

(AMGN) - Get Report

fourth-quarter earnings rose 19% from a year ago but missed analysts' estimates on an adjusted basis. Guidance for 2006 was consistent with forecasts.

Amgen earned $824 million, or 66 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $689 million, or 53 cents a share, a year ago. Adjusted for items, the biotech pioneer earned $928 million, or 75 cents a share, in the latest quarter, missing the Thomson First Call consensus estimate by a penny.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 12% from a year ago to $3.27 billion. Analysts were forecasting $3.33 billion. Amgen's U.S. sales rose 13% from a year ago to $2.6 billion, while international sales rose 17% to $543 million. Changes in foreign exchange reduced international sales by $22 million.

Among drugs, worldwide sales of Aranesp rose 24% to $873 million in the fourth quarter, while sales of Epogen fell 10% to $626 million. Sales of Neulasta and Neupogen rose 19% to $928 million, while sales of Enbrel rose 19% to $674 million.

"2005 was another strong year for Amgen," the company said. "In addition to delivering financially, we achieved four major regulatory milestones and added six new molecules to our pipeline. We made significant progress in advancing our late-stage pipeline. Also during the fourth quarter, we received positive data from a pivotal trial with panitumumab, which could potentially advance the treatment of colorectal cancer. This contributed to our strategic decision to acquire Abgenix."

For 2006, Amgen expects to earn $3.55 to $3.70 a share on an adjusted basis on revenue of $13.9 billion to $14.4 billion. Analysts were forecasting earnings of $3.65 a share on sales of $14.36 billion, according to Thomson First Call.

Separately, Amgen and

Genentech

(DNA)

cut a deal to license each other "multiple patents relating to the manufacture and use of antibodies and related technologies." As part of the deal, Genentech licensed Amgen multiple antibodies under a patent family for methods used in immunoglobulins.