Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) recently released its full-year 2012 earnings and, overall, the report made for good reading with an 11% top line gain and 22% bottom line advance. The company has graduated from a small biotech firm looking for a big hit to the industry giant, boasting an impressive portfolio of products and a solid drug pipeline. There were three important takeaways from the company's full year results.
On the positive side, overall sales were up on the strength of Enbrel, XGEVA, and Prolia. Demand for Neulasta, NEUPOGEN, Aranesp, and EPOGEN, meanwhile, was weak, although price increases helped to offset some of the impact of unit sales declines. The pipeline continues to make important progress and Amgen acquired three promising companies during the year and announced the proposed purchase of deCODE Genetics, which should bolster the company's research efforts.
Take Away 1: The Current Portfolio
The company's current roster of products is the key to its near-term future. The list is impressive for a biotech company, as it includes ten notable active drugs. Three of the company's drugs, Neulasta, NEUPOGEN, and Enbrel account for about two thirds of the company's drug sales. The 14% growth in the sales of Enbrel was impressive, as it came from a mixture of price increases and increasing demand for the product.
Enbrel, which is used to treat inflammation, appears to be on the upswing with future growth underpinned by the potential for the drug to be used in additional patient populations. For example, when first released, the drug was approved for rheumatoid arthritis. Today, its indications include chronic moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, active psoriatic arthritis, and active ankylosing spondylitis. Inflammation is believed to be an important aspect of a number of different ailments, which suggests that Enbrel's growth isn't over yet.
In addition, this drug is currently marketed in the United States under an agreement with drug giant Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE). That deal is set to expire, which should allow Amgen to see more of the revenue from the drug. Clearly this is an increasingly important drug for the company. Note, however, that Pfizer submitted a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration for a competitive drug. Since Pfizer helped establish Enbrel as a product, it will clearly know how to best attack it as a competitor.
On the flip side, weakening demand for Neulasta and NEUPOGEN is a concern. So far, the company has been able to implement price increases to blunt the impact. This duo already faces generic competitors, called bio-similars in the biotech space, in Europe and are likely to see similar competition in the United States in the near future from well-heeled generic companies like Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd (NYSE:TEVA). This is in addition to competitive products from other firms. Continued sales declines are, thus, possible.
Aranesp and EPOGEN, which both stimulate red blood cell production, also experienced sales declines. Both are notable drugs for the company, though not to the degree of Enbrel, Neulasta, and NEUPOGEN. These two round out the company's billion dollar drugs.
So, of the company's five most important drugs, only one seems to be growing at present. That said, the others continue to throw of cash that can be used to search for new drug candidates. And management seems to be pleased with the progress of all five drugs, so they at least seem to be progressing through the product life cycle as planned. Still, investors should keep an eye out for patent expiration issues and competition led price weakness.
The remainder of the company’s marked drugs is smaller, but all experienced sales increases. This is a positive, as declines from some of the above drugs are easily being offset by the strength of the company's entire product portfolio.