Amgen Shakes Things Up: Dividend Boost, New Chairman, Share Buybacks

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Biotech giant Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) made a series of moves after markets closed last night that appear to add up to an effort giving something to everybody.

First out of the chute was a 31% increase in the company’s quarterly dividend, beginning in the first quarter of 2013, from $0.36 to $0.47.

Second, the company boosted its share buyback plan by $2 billion, on top of the approximately $500 million left in Amgen’s existing $10 billion share repurchase program. The additional money is expected to fund stock buybacks “into 2014.” Amgen said it expects to fund both the dividend increase and the share buyback program from cash on hand in the United States and U.S. free cash flow.

In the corporate governance department, Amgen named a new chairman of its board of directors, Robert A. Bradway, the company’s current chief executive. Bradway is a finance guy who joined the company in 2006 and served as chief financial officer from 2007 to 2010. He has been Amgen’s CEO since May.

Vance B. Coffman, a former executive at Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), was named as the company’s lead independent director.

Kevin Sharer will retire at the end of this month, and Robert A. Eckhart, former CEO of Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT), has been appointed to the board beginning January 1. Amgen notes that its board will now include 14 directors, 13 of whom are independent.

Amgen’s shares are down 1.1% in premarket trading this morning, at $89.15 in a 52-week range of $57.14 to $90.81. Yesterday, the company’s share price came within half a buck of the high.

Paul Ausick

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