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Amgen: My Question To You Is, When Is A Miss Not A Miss?

AMGEN
AMGEN

I just got back to my desk after doing a breaking news alert on Amgen's earnings (see video below). To sum up, I characterized the report as a mixed bag. The anemia drug sales weren't as bad as expected. Overall revenue was higher than consensus. And fourth quarter earnings per share was three cents higher than the Street.

But I said that the world's biggest biotech company in terms of sales came in a penny light on full year EPS based on the range ($4.30-$4.50) it put out at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference earlier this month. FY 2007 EPS is actually $4.29. So, I said Amgen missed by one cent. You can read the press release Amgen issued then here.

I also mentioned that Amgen's guidance for this year is below the current consensus and that it simultaneously announced earlier-than-expected, positive test results on an experimental osteoporosis drug.

Well, a minute after sitting down at my desk, this email from Amgen's top corporate communications officer showed up in my inbox:

Mike,
Saw you just reported we ‘missed’ guidance by a penny. That’s not correct. At JP Morgan we said we expected earnings to be near $4.30. We were at $4.29. (Sincerely) Like to understand how you figure we missed.

Here's my reply:

Quoting from your press release: "...the Company expects 2007 adjusted EPS to be...close to the low end of the Company's Jan. 25, 2007 adjusted EPS guidance of $4.30-$4.50...." The low end of $4.30-$4.50, according to my math, would be $4.30, $4.31, $4.32.

I don't see the word "near" anywhere in the statement.

I haven't heard back yet. But this kind of baseless nit-picking--again, I'm all for accuracy and correcting a true error when one has indeed been made--is not the way to go about building a good working relationship between a company and a beat reporter.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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