TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) — Amgen Inc.'s next CEO said Monday he expects revenue to grow this year as sales pick up for some recently launched products and the company expands operations overseas.
Chief Operating Officer Robert A. Bradway is to succeed current Chief Executive Kevin Sharer this May as head of the world's largest biotech company.
Bradway told analysts that the Thousand Oaks, California, company's performance was "solid across the board" last year. He said he believes cash flow and earnings per share will rise this year and said Amgen will continue buying back its stock.
Bradway also said positive results from six mid- or late-stage studies expected over the next five years could lead to higher sales in the future.
Bradway, who will be Amgen's fourth CEO, spoke Monday at the 30th Annual J.P. Morgan Global Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.
"2011 was a solid year, but I'm even more confident about the outlook for 2012," Bradway said.
He cited momentum from last March's purchase of BioVex Group Inc., which has a vaccine for treating melanoma and head and neck cancers in late-stage testing, successful moves to protect sales of top drugs and rising sales of newer products.
Those include Xgeva for preventing fractures in cancerous bones and osteoporosis treatment Prolia. The two injected drugs, different doses of the medication denosumab, had combined sales of more than $500 million in 2011, their first full year on the market.
In November, Amgen got a new patent covering the active ingredient in Enbrel, preventing generic competition for more than a decade. Enbrel, the leading biologic drug for severe psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, is Amgen's top seller, with 2010 sales of about $3.5 billion.
Bradway said the company has gotten some crucial long-term contracts with clinics that administer its intravenous drug Epogen, for treating anemia and reducing blood transfusions in kidney dialysis patients. The contracts are important because of heated competition from Johnson & Johnson and recent federal limits on the doses of such drugs patients should be given because of severe side effects.
Bradway also said Amgen plans to expand its operations, now in about 40 countries, to 75.
Still, analysts have criticized the company for spending too much on share buybacks and not enough on improving the business, noting that denosumab is the only blockbuster Amgen has produced in the last five years.
Meanwhile, Amgen said in October that it was laying off about 380 employees in research and development, nearly 6 percent of its R&D staff, in a restructuring to free up money for expensive, later-stage testing needed to get the experimental medicines approved.
Amgen, a biotech pioneer founded in 1980, also has been retooling its management after a decade with Sharer at the helm.
COO Bradway, who also has served as Amgen's president since 2010, was named on Dec. 15 to succeed Sharer, who will retire on May 23. The company also said Roger Perlmutter will retire as head of research and development on Feb. 13. He'll be replaced by Sean Harper, chief medical officer and head of global development.
In October, Amgen appointed long-time Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. executive Anthony Hooper as executive vice president in charge of global commercial operations.