Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

offered bullish 2002 earnings guidance Tuesday after the close, forecasting earnings-per-share growth in the range of 20% and more, fueled by sales of new products.

By comparison, analysts expect Amgen to rack up 2001 earnings growth of about 12%.

"Amgen is poised for significant growth next year," said CEO Kevin Sharer, in a statement. "Over the last few years we have invested heavily to prepare for the launch of our new products. In 2002 we expect to begin to see the contribution from these products which will drive our top and bottom lines."

Wall Street analysts were looking for Amgen to earn $1.19 per share in 2001 and $1.40 per share in 2002 -- a 17.5% growth rate -- according to consensus estimates compiled by Thomson Financial/First Call.

Amgen, the world's largest biotech firm, did not give specific numbers in its guidance, choosing instead to disclose only percentage growth estimates.

Total product sales for 2002 are forecast to grow at a percentage rate in the high teens over the current year, fueled mainly by growth rates of 20% and more in sales of the anti-anemia drug Epogen and of Aranesp, a new, longer-acting version of Epogen, the company said.

Sales of Neupogen, used to fight infection in chemotherapy patients, are expected to grow at a mid-single-digit rate over the current year.

Longer term, Amgen said it expects earnings growth to reach percentage rates in the low 20s through 2005.

Shares of Amgen closed Tuesday down 44 cents, to $57.91, but were up after hours.