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AMGEN BEATS ANALYSTS' FORECASTS, BUT STOCK DROPS.

Byline: Ben Sullivan Daily News Staff Writer

Biotechnology drug maker Amgen Inc. soundly beat analysts' first quarter earnings estimates Tuesday, but then saw its share price pounded in trading after hours.

Amgen was expected to earn 44 cents per share by a consensus of analysts surveyed by First Call Corp. The company bested that figure by 4.5 percent, or 2 cents per share, on what the company said was strong growth in sales of the drug Epogen. Revenues from the drug increased 30 percent to $395 million for the quarter.

In anticipation of the report, which came out after U.S. markets closed, investors sent Amgen shares up by $8.0625, or 13.23 percent, to $69. Trading in the stock was heavy, with 9.3 million shares changing hands, or roughly twice the 30-day average volume for the stock.

But in a move that surprised some analysts, the stock dropped $3 in Nasdaq trading after the close of markets.

``Maybe it was some misguided concern about their pipeline,'' said analyst Douglas Christopher of Los Angeles-based Crowell, Weedon & Co. He noted that Amgen, in its earnings report, announced that it was discontinuing development of two drugs - a form of the anti-obesity compound leptin, as well as GDNF for the treatment of Parkinson's disease - but said the moves should have no material impact on the company.

In a conference call with analysts, Amgen executives reiterated that they expect the company to earn $1.80 to $1.85 per share for the year. Since the company announced in March that it will spend up to $100 million to develop a prostate cancer drug it acquired, that means sales are growing faster than expected for drugs Amgen already has developed.

Sales of the anti-anemia drug Epogen have grown rapidly in the last year since a Clinton administration decision to ease Medicare restrictions on the drug. Almost all of Epogen's revenue comes through Medicare, the federal health plan for the elderly.

Along with most publicly traded U.S. pharmaceutical and biotech firms, Amgen's shares were pounded Monday in a sell-off that hammered the company's stock down by $5.875, or 8.7 percent, to close at $60.9375. Christopher said that a cycling-out of technology and drug stock may have contributed to the after-hours drop in Amgen stock Tuesday.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 21, 1999
Words:386
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