Amgen Inc., the world's biggest biotech company, will focus on early sales of some promising new drugs, progress in its experimental pipeline of new drugs and three recent deals when it reports its second-quarter results after the stock market closes Thursday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: CEO Robert A. Bradway, who moved up to the post from chief operating officer in late May, will host his first call with analysts.
He'll likely focus on two recent acquisitions and a new collaboration, along with sales trends for the newest medicines from the maker of osteoporosis drug Prolia and Enbrel for inflammatory disorders.
Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., paid $700 million in June for Turkey's Mustafa Nevzat Pharmaceuticals as part of its plan to expand sales in other countries, particularly in Turkey and nearby areas. Mustafa supplies medicines to hospitals.
In early July, Amgen paid $315 million for KAI Pharmaceuticals of South San Francisco, Calif. It's developing a drug designed to treat a thyroid disorder that's a common side effect in patients with chronic kidney disease who are getting dialysis.
Meanwhile, Amgen has a new partnership with British drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC to jointly develop five Amgen antibodies as potential treatments for inflammatory diseases, including asthma, psoriasis and ulcerative colitis. Amgen will get $50 million, AstraZeneca will cover about 65 percent of research costs until 2014, and after that, the companies will split costs and any eventual revenue.
Amgen likely will note last week's licensing agreement with U.S. generic drugmaker Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Dutch generic drugmaker Synthon to eventually market Synthon's "biosimilar" version of blockbuster breast cancer and gastric cancer drug Herceptin. Amgen and Watson, which in 2010 started a partnership to develop biosimilars, or cheaper, similar versions of expensive biotech drugs, will assume the cost of late-stage testing and applying for approval to sell the drug from Synthon.
Company executives will give updates on key experimental drugs. Those include a new type of cholesterol drug that has six midstage patient tests going on. And last month, Amgen presented data at a huge conference of cancer specialists showing strong results for its leukemia drug blinatumomab, the first in a new class of drugs that mobilize cell-destroying immune cells to kill cancer cells, and for rilotumumab, for advanced gastric or gastroesophageal cancer.
WHY IT MATTERS: Sales have been declining steadily for two of Amgen's top sellers, the blockbuster anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen. That's because federal health programs have put limits on dosing and reimbursement amounts because of safety concerns. The company has three other blockbuster drugs, those with annual sales of more than $1 billion, but sales are much lower for its other five approved products.
Operating expenses were up and net income was down slightly last year, so investors are looking for higher sales from the existing drugs and hoping for approvals of Amgen's experimental drugs.
Meanwhile, besides the retirement of longtime CEO Kevin Sharer, Amgen also has recently had a few other changes in its executive suite. Analysts will be interested in Bradway's plans for the company, but he's not likely to roll out his vision just yet.
WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by FactSet, on average, expect earnings per share of $1.54, excluding one-time items, and sales of $4.08 billion.
LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: Amgen reported profit of $1.17 billion, or $1.25 per share, on revenue of $3.96 billion.
Linda A. Johnson can be followed at http://twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma