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Biogen Beats Profit Expectations

Sales of the biotech company's Avonex exceed Wall Street targets in the first quarter.

Biogen Idec

(BIIB) - Get Biogen Inc. Report

surpassed Wall Street profit and revenue estimates Wednesday morning with strong sales of two key drugs.

Shares of the formerly for-sale company, which faces a bubbling battle with activist investor Carl Icahn, were up 88 cents, or 1.4%, to $65.50 in pre-market trading.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech earned $163 million, or 54 cents a share, in the first quarter, vs. $132 million, or 38 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. That includes pre-tax charges of $100 million for in-process R&D and amortization of intangibles related to prior mergers and acquisitions, among other things.

Factoring those items out, Biogen reported adjusted profit of $250 million, or 83 cents a share, vs. $202 million, or 59 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 32% to $942 million from $716 million in the year-ago quarter.

Results beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts who were looking for 79 cents a share on revenue of $890 million.

Sales of multiple sclerosis drug Avonex increased 19% to $536 million, surpassing the Street consensus expectation of $490 million.

Sales of MS and Crohn's disease drug Tysabri, for which Biogen partners with

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, totaled $160 million. Biogen will recognize $115 million of that, edging past the $113 million consensus target.

And sales of Rituxan, a treatment for B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and rheumatoid arthritis, rose 19% to $247 million as already reported by Biogen's partner



. Analysts had looked for $251 million.

Looking ahead, Biogen raised its full-year 2008 guidance. The company now expects GAAP profit of $2.28 to $2.48 a share, and adjusted earnings of $3.25 to $3.45 a share, compared to prior expectations for $3.20 to $3.35 a share on an adjusted basis.

The company also predicts total revenue growth of roughly 20% of the prior year, which translates to $3.8 billion, compared to prior guidance of 15%-20% growth, or between $3.6 billion and $3.8 billion.