Amgen ( AMGN) reported a small increase in third-quarter adjusted earnings per share, topping Wall Street estimates, but revenue remained flat. The Thousands Oak, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical firm reported third-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.18 billion, down from $1.22 billion a year earlier. On a per-share basis, however, earnings rose to $1.08 from $1.04 because of fewer shares outstanding. Adjusted earnings exclude stock option expenses and certain other charges. Analysts projected adjusted earnings of $1.03 per share, according to Thomson Financial. Under generally accepted accounting principles, Amgen's profit tumbled to $201 million, or 18 cents a share, from $1.1 billion, or 94 cents a share, a year ago. The large drop stemmed from $973 million in charges, including previously announced layoffs and facility shutdowns. Total revenue in the quarter was $3.6 billion, flat with the year-earlier period. Amgen's anemia drug franchise -- Aranesp and Epogen -- recorded lower year-over-year sales as new treatment restrictions in both the oncology and kidney disease markets continue to have a detrimental impact. Third-quarter sales of Aranesp totaled $818 million, down 14% sequentially and 23% year over year. Epogen sales were $602 million in the quarter, down 4% sequentially and 5% lower than the third quarter last year. Aranesp met the lowered expectations of analysts this quarter, but Epogen was a bit weaker than expected.
On Tuesday, Amgen won an important patent infringement case against Roche that will likely bar the Swiss drug maker from launching its competing anemia drug Mircera in the United States. While that's good news, it was countered with comments Wednesday from the chief medical officer of Medicare, who told Reuters that there is no data yet presented to support a reversal or revision in the agency's recent decision to tighten reimbursement rules for the use of anemia drugs in cancer patients. Last week, the FDA supported Medicare's decision in a letter sent to Congress. Amgen bulls have been hoping that pressure from outside medical groups like the American Society of Clinical Oncology, as well as Amgen lobbyists, would convince Medicare to reconsider its policy and loosen reimbursement rules. Amgen has previously announced cost-cutting measures and layoffs aimed at offsetting lower revenue from its anemia drug franchise. In the third quarter, adjusted operating expenses of just over $2 billion were down 20% sequentially and lower than analyst expectations. Research and development spending fell 14% from the second quarter to $699 million. Selling, general and administrative costs totaled $804 million in the quarter, down 7% sequentially. Back on the top line, sales of Neulasta and Neupogen, used to fight chemotherapy-induced infections, totaled $690 million and $308 million, respectively. Neulasta sales were lighter than analyst expectations.
Amgen also reported third-quarter Enbrel sales of $821 million, stronger with expectations. Enbrel is used to treat autoimmune disease, most notably rheumatoid arthritis. Amgen shares closed Wednesday up 43 cents to $58.13 ahead of the earnings report.