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AMGEN PROFITS SOAR NEWER DRUGS FUEL SURGE.

Byline: Evan Pondel Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS - Biotechnology behemoth Amgen Inc. more than quadrupled its third-quarter profits on strong sales of anti-anemia drug Aranesp and arthritis-attacker Enbrel, the company said Wednesday.

The Thousand Oaks-based company reported net income of $967 million, or 77 cents a share, compared with $236 million, or 18 cents a share, in the like quarter a year ago. At the same time, revenue rose 17 percent to $2.5 billion in the three-month period ending Sept. 30.

Kevin Sharer, Amgen's chief executive officer, touted the quarter and its ability to propel the company forward as it enters the final stretch of the year. ``It gives us real momentum as we look to 2006,'' said Sharer during a conference call with analysts.

Despite the results, shares of Amgen lost nearly 5 percent in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the company missed third-quarter estimates by more than 5 cents, according to Thomson First Call.

But Shiv Kapoor, analyst with Montgomery & Co. in San Francisco, wasn't disappointed with the results. ``Overall, they are very impressive,'' said Kapoor, who also noted that third-quarter sales of anemia fighter Aranesp increased 45 percent to $542 million in the United States.

Enbrel sales increased 35 percent during the third quarter to $668 million, versus $496 million in the year-ago period. Amgen said the drug continues to gain market share in the dermatology and rheumatology marketplace. Federal officials recently granted Amgen approval to open a new manufacturing plant of Enbrel in Rhode Island.

Meanwhile, Amgen's Epogen drug saw sales fall 12 percent as usage increased in the hospital setting for newer generation drug Aranesp.

In other developments, the company expects to spend more money on research and development as clinical trials ramp up for denosumab, Amgen's investigational therapy for bone loss. In the most recent quarter, R&D expenses totaled $559 million compared with $495 million in the like period a year ago.

The company also plans to file new data with the Food and Drug Administration on extended dosing regimens for Aranesp. The longer dosing regimens will apply to patients suffering from chronic kidney disease.

Potentially augmenting Amgen's pipeline, the company expects to release data next year on drugs that treat gastrointestinal tumors, chemotherapy-induced immune deficiency illnesses and colorectal tumors.

One potential thorn in Amgen's side is a recently filed lawsuit against the company on behalf of rival Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuit alleges that Amgen is attempting to push J&J's Procrit drug out the market.

``But we believe the the claim is without merit,'' Sharer said.

Looking ahead, Amgen reaffirmed its 2005 earnings-per-share estimates of $3.10 to $3.20.

During regular trading hours, shares of Amgen rose $2.22 to close at $78.09 Wednesday on the Nasdaq market.

Evan Pondel, (818) 713-3662

evan.pondel(at)dailynews.com
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 20, 2005
Words:467
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