(Reuters) - Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) on Tuesday reported higher-than-expected third-quarter profit in its first full quarter under Chief Executive Robert Bradway and it raised its full-year earnings and revenue forecasts.
The quarterly results were helped by strong sales of its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel and lower expenses, and Amgen shares rose more than 1 percent.
Excluding items, Amgen posted adjusted earnings of $1.67 per share, topping analysts’ average expectations by 20 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, and marking the second successive quarter that the company exceeded Wall Street estimates by at least that much.
The world’s largest biotechnology company said net profit rose to $1.1 billion, or $1.41 per share, from $454 million, or 50 cents per share, a year ago, when it took a large charge to settle a probe related to sales and marketing practices.
The company now expects 2012 adjusted earnings of $6.50 to $6.60 per share and revenue of $17.2 billion to $17.3 billion. It had previously forecast earnings of $6.20 to $6.35 per share and revenue of $16.9 billion to $17.2 billion.
“Our business has very good momentum,” Bradway told analysts on a conference call.
Revenue for the quarter rose 10 percent to $4.32 billion, exceeding Wall Street estimates of $4.25 billion, while total operating expenses fell to $2.89 billion from $3.42 billion in the year ago quarter.
The company cautioned that expenses would likely rise as promising drugs in its developmental pipeline advance to larger and more expensive clinical trials.
“It was a real solid quarter with Enbrel driving much of the upside, and good expense control led to substantially higher operating margins and the EPS beat,” said Cowen and Co analyst Eric Schmidt.
“Business at Amgen is very good,” said Schmidt, adding that he believes even the new forecast will turn out to have been fairly conservative.
Sales of Enbrel rose 17 percent to $1.08 billion, driven by price increases and higher demand for the drug that is also used to treat psoriasis. Enbrel is expected to become even more profitable for Amgen late next year, when a profit-sharing deal with Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) expires.
Combined worldwide sales of Amgen’s white blood cell boosters Neupogen and Neulasta rose 1 percent to $1.35 billion.
Xgeva, a new drug to prevent fractures from cancer that has spread to the bones, had sales of $201 million, slightly ahead of Wall Street consensus estimates for $199 million and 12 percent higher than the previous quarter.
The related osteoporosis drug Prolia, however, saw sales fall 8 percent from the prior quarter to $110 million, due in part to wholesaler stocking issues, the company said.
Prolia sales have picked up to start the fourth quarter, Amgen told analysts.
Amgen’s older anemia drug Epogen proved something of a bright spot. Its sales, which have been in decline for years because of safety concerns and dosage restrictions, rose 3 percent from a year ago to $491 million, topping analyst expectations of about $476 million.
The company called the impact from competition for Epogen “modest.” In March, U.S. health regulators approved Omontys, a rival anemia drug from Affymax Inc AFFY.O.
Sales of its other red blood cell booster, Aranesp, which have been hit with similar safety and usage issues, fell 17 percent to $497 million, missing Wall Street estimates for $534 million.
Amgen shares rose to $88.50 in extended trading from their Nasdaq close at $87.32. The shares, which have been on a tear, are up about 36 percent since the start of the year.
Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by M.D. Golan