Amgen: Analysts Say It's "In Line," Readers Say I'm Out of Line


In the wake of my semantic disagreementwith Amgen over whether it beat, met or missed its earnings pre-announcement earlier this month, analysts are putting out research notes to clients on the company's results, guidance and new drug data and blog readers are sending emails about my take on the full year 2007 number.

Analyst reviews are mixed.

Lazard Capital Markets' Joel Sendek is keeping his Hold rating on AMGN. He writes: "Sales declines in (the anemia drug) business seem to be slowing, but too early to call a bottom in advance of March ODAC meeting."

ODAC is the abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee that will be meeting to talk about the risks of the anemia drugs on cancer patients. The products are used to combat the side effects of chemotherapy. While Wachovia's George Farmer who rates the stock an Outperform says he believes "pressures should lighten this year" on the anemia drugs.

Leerink Swann's Bill Tanner, who also thinks AMGN is an outperformer, writes: "We believe investors will once again revisit AMGN shares by virtue of the valuation and better business prospects beyond 2008."

But others are more cautious. Bernstein's Geoffrey Porges is keeping a Market-perform rating on the stock arguing: "We continue to view the mid March (FDA panel) meeting with great trepidation, and...would prefer to remain on the sidelines pending resolution of this overhang."

FBR's Jim Reddoch is also neutral on the shares and he agrees that the upcoming FDA meeting means "there is still downside potential if the (anemia drug) label is tightened."

Miller Tabak's Les Funtleyder writes: "The company is still a financial story rather than a science story so we Reit(erate) Neutral." And Rodman & Renshaw's Mike King cautions, "Further declines (in anemia drug sales) could result depending on the outcome of the March 13 ODAC panel."

FBR, Lazard, Wachovia, Leerink Swann, Bernstein and R & R make a market in AMGN.

Meantime, blog readers are nearly unanimous in their opinion that my interpretation of the company's guidance and my protestation of Amgen's response to my report were wrong.

Dean Smith of Bellevue, WA writes: "You're an idiot."
That's not an excerpt. That's the entire text.

Kirk Johnson says: "Why would you assume that 'close to the low end' means 'above the lower end' rather than 'somewhere close to $4.30'?"

Steve Silverman writes: "It's not becoming of you. Let it sleep man!"

And Darry Schroader says: "It was typical Huckman reporting, couldn't dwell on anything positive just try to put something negative into play."

As I write this, AMGN shares are rallying.

Questions? Comments?