* Dividend to be about 20 pct of net income
* Sees 2015 EPS $7.25 to $8.60
* Sees 2015 revenue $16 bln to $18 bln
* Shares down 4.6 percent
(Adds analyst, CEO comment, updates shares)
By Bill Berkrot
NEW YORK, April 21 Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) provided
a financial forecast for 2015 above Wall Street estimates and
said it will begin paying a dividend this year amounting to
about 20 percent of its adjusted net income, and increasing
The world's largest biotechnology company told a meeting of
investors and analysts at a New York hotel on Thursday that it
expects 2015 revenue of $16 billion to $18 billion and earnings
of $7.25 per share to $8.60 per share.
Analysts on average are estimating 2015 earnings of $7.16
per share and revenue of $16.95 billion, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S, but Amgen shares fell nearly 5 percent.
Sanford Bernstein analyst Geoffrey Porges said investors
may be disappointed that the low end of the revenue forecast
represents just 1 percent growth over current revenue.
Other analysts said there was likely near-term concern over
potential declines in use and sales of Amgen's anemia drug
Epogen in kidney dialysis patients.
Amgen said it expects sales of its new denosumab products
-- the cancer drug Xgeva and osteoporosis medicine Prolia -- to
reach $3 billion to $4 billion in 2015.
"We're determined to work hard to make the forecast that we
present to you today a reality, or better," Chief Executive
Kevin Sharer told his audience at the company's first such
meeting since 2008.
Sharer, 63, told Reuters in an interview that there will be
a new CEO to see the 2015 forecasts through.
"I will not be here in 2015," Sharer said definitively.
"In the next few years I'm sure we'll have a management
transition, but we're not announcing any dates or anything," he
said. Amgen does not have a mandatory retirement age.
Analysts and investors had been expecting Amgen to announce
initiation of a dividend after months of expressing displeasure
with the idea that the company might use its large cash balance
for a major acquisition rather than returning money to
The Amgen board also authorized repurchases of up to an
additional $5 billion of its common stock, bringing the average
return to shareholders to about 60 percent of adjusted net
income through 2015, including the dividend.
Sharer stressed that Amgen intends to continue its research
and development spending and said, "when we do acquisitions we
cannot be seduced simply by accounting benefits."
Research chief Roger Perlmutter said the company will
report late-stage clinical results on five drugs over the next
five years, and sees a "high probability of success" in
experimental drugs for psoriasis and osteoporosis.
Analysts have expressed particular interest in the
potential of AMG 785, which has demonstrated an ability to
increase bone density in midstage osteoporosis studies.
Amgen also said it plans to expand into emerging markets
and Japan, making investments in Japan beyond its current
partnership arrangements there.
"We have a long-term objective of being an operating
company in Japan," Sharer said, calling it a commitment.
Xgeva, for preventing fractures in cancer that has spread
to the bones, is off to a strong start with sales of $42
million in its first full quarter on the market, far exceeding
Wall Street expectations. The drug is widely seen as Amgen's
most important future growth driver.
The Prolia launch has been disappointing to Wall Street so
far, with slow adoption by physicians, and reimbursement
Amgen expects Prolia sales to accelerate once it gains
Medicare Part D reimbursement and more primary care providers
come on board. The company said it was confident that Prolia
will eventually become a blockbuster drug.
The news was not as optimistic for its anemia franchise
that has seen sales erode since 2007, after safety concerns
The company said that, due to reimbursement changes, it
expects a mid-teens decline in utilization of the anemia drugs
this year. In first-quarter results reported on Wednesday,
sales of the older red blood cell booster Epogen fell 14
However, Amgen sees profitability for its still growing
blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drug Enbrel
improving following expiration of a profit sharing agreement
with Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) in late 2013.
Enbrel sales for the first quarter climbed 9 percent to
$875 million. The company said it does not expect competition
to Enbrel from biosimilars in the foreseeable future.
Amgen said it sees a significant opportunity for its own
fledgling biosimilar business beyond 2015.
Amgen shares were down 4.6 percent at $54.57 in afternoon
trade on Nasdaq.
(additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York and Deena
Beasley in Los Angeles; editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Dave
Zimmerman and Gunna Dickson)