Some of the largest biotechnology companies began reporting earnings that, despite the downturn in the economy, met or came very close to expectations from analysts.

Amgen Inc., biotechnology’s largest company, weighed in with worldwide product sales of $974 million for 2001’s fourth quarter, up from $847 million the previous year. It pulled in total revenues of about $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter, increased from about $951 million. Its total product sales for 2001 were roughly $3.5 billion, vs. $3.2 billion in 2000. Total revenues for Amgen reached more than $4 billion in 2001, up from about $3.6 billion.

Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Amgen reported adjusted earnings per share in the fourth quarter of 30 cents, up from adjusted earnings per share of 24 cents in 2000’s fourth quarter and a penny less than consensus estimates of 31 cents. For 2001 overall, Amgen posted adjusted earnings per share of $1.18, a 12 percent increase from 2000’s year-end adjusted earnings per share of $1.05.

Amgen’s net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 was $163 million. For the year, Amgen netted about $1.1 billion.

Sales of Amgen’s Epogen (epoetin alfa, anemia therapy for patients on dialysis) and Aranesp (darbepoetin alpha, anemia treatment for patients on dialysis and not on dialysis) reached $609 million. Full-year sales of Epogen and Aranesp reached $2.2 billion, an increase of 10 percent. Worldwide sales for Aranesp in the fourth quarter were $37 million and $42 million for 2001.

Neupogen, used to decrease the incidence of infection during certain types of cancer-related chemotherapy treatments, brought Amgen $353 million in the fourth quarter, and $1.3 billion for the year, a 10 percent increase over 2000’s full-year sales.

Kineret, for rheumatoid arthritis, was launched in November and its sales in the fourth quarter were $12 million. The company closed out December with nearly $2.7 billion in cash and marketable securities.

As the year ended, Amgen disclosed it was acquiring Immunex Corp., of Seattle, for $16 billion, and taking in Immunex’s approved product, Enbrel. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 18, 2001.)

Immunex reported net income of $170 million, or 30 cents per share, for the year on total revenues of $968.8 million. The prior year’s net income was $154.4 million, or 28 cents per share, on revenues of $861.8 million. For the fourth quarter alone, Immunex had net income of $41.6 million, or 7 cents per share, a penny below consensus estimates. It posted revenues of $277.7 million for 2001’s fourth quarter, compared to $250.7 million the previous year.

Enbrel, approved for rheumatoid arthritis and also psoriatic arthritis, had sales totaling $761.9 million for the year an increase of 17 percent over 2000 and $216.3 million in the fourth quarter, up from $194.1 million. Immunex said its Enbrel sales were hurt last year by manufacturing issues, but those issues have been addressed.

Including sales of Leukine (sargramostim) and Novantrone (mitoxantrone for injection concentrate), Immunex reported full-year product revenues of about $959.6 million. The company ended the year with $1.6 billion in cash and marketable securities, including restricted investments.

Biogen Posts Numbers, Settles With Berlex

Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., posted year-end revenues of more than $1 billion, up from $926 million in 2000. The company reported $273 million in net income for 2001, or $1.78 per share, including 12 cents per share of net one-time charges, resulting in operating earnings per share of $1.90.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Biogen reported total revenues of $280 million, compared to $245 million over the same period in 2000. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2001 was $59 million, or 48 cents per share excluding one-time charges, in line with consensus estimates.

Sales for Biogen’s multiple sclerosis product, Avonex, reached $972 million in 2001, up from $761 million in 2000. In the fourth quarter, Avonex sales were $259 million.

Biogen also said it reached a settlement in its litigation with Berlex Laboratories Inc., of Montville, N.J., over a claim that the manufacture of Avonex infringes Berlex’s “McCormick” patents. Although certain settlement terms are contingent on the outcome of an appeal filed by Berlex, Biogen said it will receive a fully paid, royalty-free nonexclusive license under the patents held by Berlex in exchange for $20 million to Berlex. The final hearing on the appeal was held Nov. 7 and a decision will be issued when the court completes deliberation.

Genentech Revenues Hit $2.2B; Genzyme Forecasts

Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, released its figures last week. The company saw earnings per share for 2001 reach 76 cents, compared to 61 cents per share for 2000, on a pro forma basis. Genentech earned 20 cents per share in the fourth quarter, on a pro forma basis, in line with consensus estimates, compared to 16 cents per share.

Net income for 2001 reached $404.5 million on a pro forma basis, up from $325.1 million. For the fourth quarter of 2001 net income was $106.4 million, increased from $83.4 million.

Total revenues for the year came in at about $2.2 billion, increased from roughly $1.7 billion in 2000. Total product sales increased 36 percent in 2001 to reach about $1.7 billion, up from almost $1.3 billion.

Rituxan sales in 2001 rose to about $819 million, up from $444 million in 2000. Herceptin sales jumped from about $275.9 million in 2000 to $346.6 million in 2001. Sales of Genentech’s three cardiovascular products, Activase, TNKase and Cathflo Activase, fell 4 percent to $197.1 million.

Genentech ended 2001 with about $1.3 billion in cash and short-term investments.

Although it has not yet released its 2001 earnings, Genzyme Corp.’s Genzyme General provided financial guidance for 2002, saying it expects total revenues for 2002 to be between $1.15 billion and $1.2 billion, compared to 2001 revenues of $981 million.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Genzyme is predicting sales of Renagel, a phosphate binder for patients with end-stage renal disease on hemodialysis, to reach between $260 million and $280 million in 2002, up from 2001’s $177 million. Cerezyme, an enzyme replacement therapy for patients with Type I Gaucher’s disease, is anticipated to bring Genzyme between $580 million and $600 million in 2002, increased from $570 million. Fabrazyme, an enzyme replacement therapy for Fabry’s disease, is expected to reach between $25 million and $40 million in sales. The company ended the year with more than $1 billion in cash.