Amgen Inc on Wednesday projected revenue for 2013 that exceeds Wall Street estimates and said it was on track to deliver on its 2015 forecasts well ahead of schedule.
The world's largest biotechnology company forecast 2013 revenue of $17.8 billion to $18.2 billion and adjusted earnings of $6.85 to $7.15 per share. Analysts on average are looking for revenue of $17.7 billion and earnings of $6.99 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The 2013 forecast suggests "that they expect good momentum from 2012," RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee said. "They have a history of guiding conservatively and then beating."
The company was true to that history on a call with analysts and investors.
Amgen previously targeted 2015 revenue of $16 billion to $18 billion and adjusted earnings of $7.25 to $8.60 per share. On Wednesday, Amgen management said it was on track to hit the upper end of its 2015 revenue guidance two years early and the EPS forecast at least one year early.
It said it is on track to earn at least $8 per share for 2015.
Amgen, whose shares gained 34 percent last year, noted that its deferred 2012 research and development (R&D) tax credit, which the US Congress failed to address in time for 2012, would be recorded in the first quarter of 2013. The company also intends to continue to return cash to investors through meaningful increases to its dividend going forward.
Net profit for the fourth quarter fell as sales of some key products declined and R&D spending and other costs jumped.
Excluding items, Amgen had adjusted earnings of $1.40 per share, topping analysts' average expectations by 2 cents. Net profit fell to $788 million, or $1.01 per share, from $934 million, or $1.08 per share, a year ago.
Revenue for the quarter rose 11 percent to $4.42 billion, edging past Wall Street estimates of $4.37 billion. But R&D spending rose 9 percent due to large clinical trials of two experimental drugs, including for a promising cholesterol fighter from a new class of medicines called PCSK9 inhibitors that is just beginning expensive late stage testing.
Selling, general and administrative costs rose 13 percent for the quarter.
Sales of Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis jumped 23 percent to $1.16 billion with the help of price increases. That topped analyst estimates of $1.08 billion.
But sales of other important products declined and fell short of expectations, including combined worldwide sales of white blood cell boosters