NEW YORK — Biotechnology company Amgen Inc. said Monday its net income rose 10 percent in the fourth quarter on better sales of anti-infection drugs and reduced taxes.
The company also bolstered its late-stage drug pipeline by buying privately held cancer drug maker BioVex Group Inc. in a deal that could be worth as much as $1 billion. The company's drug candidate OncoVex is a virus that attacks cancer cells, destroying tumors and stimulating the immune systems to fight cancer throughout the body.
Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., said it earned $1.02 billion, or $1.08 per share, in the quarter ended in December, up from $931 million, or 92 cents per share. Excluding one-time costs, Amgen posted a profit of $1.17 per share. Revenue edged up 1 percent to $3.84 billion from $3.81 billion.
Analysts expected a profit of $1.10 per share and $3.81 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.
Sales of Amgen's drugs Neulasta and Neupogen, which are used to prevent infections in chemotherapy patients, rose 3 percent to $1.24 billion. The increase mostly came from higher prices. Changes in inventories by wholesalers also aided its revenue, and tax credits boosted Amgen's quarterly results.
Sales of Amgen's anemia drugs Aranesp and Epogen continued to slide, declining a combined 9 percent to $1.22 billion because of lower demand, primarily for Epogen. Sales of the two drugs have dropped in recent years because of safety warnings and tighter restrictions on their use.
Amgen reported $28 million in sales of its newest drug, denosumab. The drug is approved under the name Prolia as a treatment for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, and it is sold as Xgeva for the prevention of bone fractures in patients with advanced cancer. Amgen said Prolia sales totaled $20 million and Xgeva sales reached $8 million.
Investors hope the new products will reinvigorate Amgen's sales growth and help make up for declining sales of Aranesp and Epogen. The Food and Drug Administration approved Prolia in June and Xgeva in November.
Sales of Amgen's other drugs held steady. Revenue from the rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drug Enbrel increased 3 percent to $939 million and sales of the hyperparathyroidism drug Sensipar grew 10 percent to $188 million.
Looking ahead, Amgen issued a 2011 forecast short of Wall Street estimates. Amgen said it expects to earn $5 to $5.20 per share in 2011, on $15.1 billion to $15.5 billion in revenue. It said the impact of the U.S. health care overhaul law will reach between $400 million to $500 million, including $150 million to $200 million in new federal excise fees.
Analysts had projected a profit of $5.25 per share and $15.26 billion in revenue for the year, on average.
"Our priorities in 2011 are to make Prolia and Xgeva successes, advance and enrich our pipeline, and build value for our shareholders," Kevin Sharer, chairman & CEO said in a statement.
Separately, Amgen said it expects the acquisition of BioVex to close in the first quarter. It agreed to pay $425 million at closing and another $575 million if BioVex's products reach regulatory and sales milestones. The company's drug OncoVex is in late-stage testing as a treatment for metastatic melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, and squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. BioVex, which is based in Woburn, Mass., is also running an early stage clinical trial of the genital herpes vaccine ImmunoVex.
For 2010, net income edged up less than 1 percent to $4.63 billion, or $4.79 per share, from $4.61 billion, or $4.51 per share. Revenue rose 3 percent to $15.05 billion from $14.64 billion.
In aftermarket trading, Amgen shares were unchanged at $57.29. The stock rose 32 cents during the day.