Amgen ( AMGN) Thursday released first-quarter earnings that were a big jump over the same period last year and a small step above Wall Street's consensus.

The Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based biotechnology company earned $752.3 million, or 57 cents a share, on revenue of $2.34 billion for the three months ended March 31. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call projected earnings of $741 million, or 56 cents a share, on revenue of $2.35 billion.

For the same period last year, Amgen earned $557.9 million, or 42 cents a share, on revenue of $1.76 billion. That means sales jumped 33% and net earnings climbed 35%.

Like many companies, Amgen distinguished between the adjusted earnings, noted above, and earnings based on generally accepted accounting principles. The adjusted earnings exclude certain expenses related to the acquisition of Immunex in 2002.

On a GAAP basis, Amgen earned 52 cents a share for 2004's first quarter vs. 37 cents for the same period last year. GAAP net income rose to $690 million from $493 million.

Amgen, which released its financial results after markets had closed, was led by the strong growth of Aranesp, its anemia therapy for patients with chronic renal failure and for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Worldwide sales jumped 113% to $543 million.

Another strong performer was Enbrel, an anti-inflammatory drug, whose worldwide sales gained 45% to $397 million.

Sales of Neulasta, an anti-infection drug for certain cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, increased 53% to $395 million. But sales of Neupogen, another anti-infective for chemotherapy patients, saw sales slip 5% to $269 million.

Amgen's stock closed Thursday at $57.14, up 13 cents.

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