Amgen Inc. has been telling Wall Street analysts thatexpectations of the company's performance for the firstquarter ending June 30 have been overly optimistic.

The Thousand Oaks, Calif., company still feels comfortablewith the $3.37 annual 1992 earnings estimate that is theaverage for 14 analysts who report to the First Call network,an electronic information service for institutional investors.But it has put out the word that the return will come laterrather than sooner in the year.

"We're trying to make sure that expectations for the quarterwere appropriate," said spokeswoman Sarah Crampton.

"The magnitude of the changes we're making is pretty small,"said David Stone, a biotech analyst at Cowen & Co. in Boston.Stone lowered his first-quarter earnings estimate to 75 centsfrom 85 cents and changed his rating to a short-term "hold"from a "buy."

The change is based on the company's expectation of flat first-quarter sales of its Neupogen granulocyte colony stimulatingfactor now that U.S. distributors have filled their inventories.The different European system of drug purchases means thereis no such pipeline-filling effect.

Alex. Brown & Sons. analyst David Webber also lowered hisfirst-quarter estimate -- to 73 cents from 86 cents -- butincreased his estimates for the third and fourth quarters.Webber lowered his full-year estimate only 2 cents to $3.50.In fact, Webber doubled to $10 million his estimate of Amgen'searnings from its Kirin joint venture.

"The biggest change is I reduced my estimate of net interestincome for the year from $20 million to $14 million becausethe company said it's spending faster on capital projects than Ihad projected," Webber said.

Amgen stock (NASDAQ:AMGN) closed down 75 cents on Mondayat $121.50, after losing $4.13 on Friday and $4.38 on Thursday.-- KB

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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