Amgen Raises Forecast for Year Even as Biosimilars Encroach

(Bloomberg) -- Amgen Inc., maker of the blockbuster arthritis treatment Enbrel, saw sales drop in the second quarter as newer drugs struggled and biosimilars threatened the company’s older portfolio.

  • Total revenue was down 3% from a year earlier to $5.87 billion, Amgen said Tuesday. Adjusted earnings per share of $3.97 were up 4%, beating the median analyst forecast of $3.59. Amgen raised its 2019 forecast for EPS and revenue, but only on the bottom end.

Key Insights

  • The stock rose in late trading after the company said in its earnings presentation that AMG-510, a therapy targeting cancer caused by mutations of a gene known as KRAS, elicited responses in colorectal and appendiceal patients. That suggests it could eventually help diversify the company’s portfolio.

  • While Enbrel sales beat estimates by rising 5% to $1.36 billion, those gains were driven mostly by price increases and changes to inventory levels. The company still reported lower unit demand, as the threat looms from biosimilars, a type of generic drug. Enbrel is also at the center of a patent dispute with Novartis AG’s Sandoz unit.
  • Amgen sliced the list price of cholesterol fighter Repatha in hopes it would generate more sales. In the first quarter, the first in which the drug was available at the new price, sales rose 15% compared with the prior year. But that growth appears to have slowed, with the company reporting only a 3% gain for the most recent quarter. And that increase was offset by the lower price.
  • Enbrel isn’t the only drug Amgen has sought to defend in the courts. The day before its earnings release, the company lost a bid to revive a lawsuit it filed to block Coherus BioSciences Inc. from selling a biosimilar version of its blockbuster chemotherapy drug Neulasta. Year over-year sales of the drug fell 25%, also driven in part by biosimilar competition.

Market Reaction

  • Amgen shares gained 2.8% in late trading. They were down 9.4% this year through Tuesday’s close.

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