Can Amgen Get the Gorilla Off Its Neck?

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Shares of biotech giant Amgen (AMGN) fell another 4% last night after the company announced more negative news.  The company is abandoning a clinical trial of Vectibix, its "was-promising" colon cancer treatment.  An interim look at the trial found that colon cancer patients treated only with chemotherapy and Avastin from Genentech (DNA) were actually more likely to live longer than patients who also received Vectibix.

Yesterday shares closed at $60.47 and have traded as low as $59.00 this year; unfortunately it looks like shares were at $57.85 in after-hours trading on active volume.  Looks like it may be another yearly low.

Shareholders might be taking issue with this proxy filing that showed the CEO pay package: Kevin Sharer received a total pay package of $18.6 million; $1.5 million was his salary, with $4.5 million in bonuses (over meeting short-term and long-term objectives), stock options that are valued somewhere around $11.6 million on the grant date, and $1 million in perks (jet, driver, planning).  Amgen fell from $78.86 at the end of 2005 to $68.31 at the end of 2006.  We have previously noted that the market is treating this one like a plain jane Big Pharma drug stock more than a biotech stock. 

This one has been under fire on capitol hill over its prices charged to Medicare over anemia drugs Epogen and Aranesp, plus new warning labels and FDA reviews over side effects.  It also has some patent issues that may come under more attack, and this has analysts trying to figure out how to model 2008 and 2009 earnings.

Jon C. Ogg
March 23, 2007

Jon Ogg can be reached at jonogg@247wallst.com; he does not own securities in the companies he covers.