Amgen Inc. stock rose sharply late last week after severalWall Street analysts strongly reiterated their favorableassessments of the company's earnings prospects.
Alex. Brown & Sons analyst David Webber raised his fiscal1992 earnings estimate to $3.75 a share from $3.50 based onhis reading of the company's 1991 annual report.
Webber said two statements struck him as significant. Thecompany said more than 90,000 kidney dialysis patients arenow receiving Epogen, Amgen's anti-anemia drug. Webber, whohad been estimating 85,000 patients, with an upper range of90,000, raised his Epogen revenue estimates.
"I was also encouraged by a sentence (in the report) thatimplies that the company is confident that G-CSF is on trackon sales," Webber said. "That keeps me comfortable with my$230-million net G-CSF estimate for the fiscal year."
Neupogen granulocyte colony stimulating factor is approved toboost white blood cell production in patients receivingchemotherapy for non-bone marrow cancers.
"Virtually all oncologists who count are using it almostexclusively," said Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Jeffrey Casdin.Only a tiny bit of rival Immunex Corp.'s Leukine granulocytemacrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) is being used,he said. "Now that the die is cast, it will be virtuallyimpossible for GM-CSF to break in without some new trialdata."
Stock of Seattle-based Immunex (NASDAQ:IMNX) closed Fridayat $43, down 75 cents.
Casdin said his fiscal 1992 earnings estimate of $3.25 is low,and earnings will be closer to $3.50.
Robert Kupor, an analyst at Kidder, Peabody in New York,reiterated his "buy" recommendation on Amgen stock. "I see noreason for the stock to be way down," he said. Amgen stock(NASDAQ:AMGN) hit a closing high of $134.50 on April 25, buthas since declined. The stock closed at $117.88 on Friday, up13 cents, after rising $7 on Thursday. Kupor estimatesearnings of $3.50 for the year. -- Karen Bernstein
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