May 22, 2024
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Amgen shares pop 12% after excitement from obesity drug candidate


Amgen’s new research and development facility in San Francisco. (courtesy photo)

Shares of Thousand Oaks-based Amgen gained 12% on May 3, one day after the company disclosed its earnings for the first quarter of 2024 and highlighted the excitement around its weight-loss drug.

During the company’s earnings call, Amgen CEO Bob Bradway commented on their obesity drug candidate, MariTide.

He noted that while the company does not usually comment on interim Phase 2 data for treatments, he recognized there was “significant interest” in MariTide.

“We are very encouraged with the results that we’ve seen thus far and with the conduct of the trial. Following the interim analysis, I would say we’re confident in MariTide’s differentiated profile and believe it will address important unmet medical needs,” Bradway said.

Amgen did not provide specific data, but Chief Scientific Officer James Bradner reiterated excitement around the injection treatment and noted that patient dropout has not been an issue.

He said the company will release initial data from the study in late 2024.

Amgen’s treatment would compete with other weight-loss drugs gaining major traction in the mainstream, such as Wegovy and Ozempic.

As such, analysts and investors remain intrigued as biotechnology companies across the spectrum are trying to get their weight-loss treatments to market.

William Blair upgraded the company’s stock from market perform to outperform while firms Morgan Stanley and BMO Capital raised their price target.

As a result, shares popped 12% on May 3, closing at $311.29, its highest closing price in more than a month.

Amgen, one of the largest biotechnology companies in the world, did suffer a bit of a setback in the first quarter, noting a net loss $113 million, or 21 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2024, down from a net gain of $2.8 billion in the first quarter of 2023.

The net loss was primarily driven from losses in equity investment in BeiGene and higher operating expenses from the Horizon Therapeutics acquired assets.

When adjusted for one-time losses, Amgen non-GAAP earnings per share was $3.96, down just 1% from the prior year.

The company’s adjusted net loss was enough to beat analysts expectations by about 2% according to Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Non-GAAP operating income increased from $2.8 billion to $3.1 billion while non-GAAP operating margin decreased 5.1 percentage points to 43.2%.

The company also saw revenue increase 22% to $7.4 billion in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same quarter a year ago. 

The revenue growth was driven by 25% volume growth as ten products sold by Amgen delivered at least double-digit growth in the first quarter, including cholesterol drug Repatha, asthma treatment Tezspire and more.

Amgen’s purchase of Horizon is also seeing positive signs.

Amgen purchased Horizon in 2022 and closed the deal in 2023 for $27.8 billion. With the purchase, Amgen launched its rare disease portfolio, which in total contributed nearly $1 billion.

“Overall, the integration of Horizon, its people, products and pipeline is proceeding well, reflecting the strong fit between our organizations,” Amgen said.

Horizon treatments Tepezza, Krystexxa and Uplinza combined to deliver revenue worth $739 million thanks to sales of $424 million, $235 million and $80 million, respectively.

“With many of our innovative products delivering strong growth and promising new medicines advancing through our pipeline, we are excited about delivering attractive long-term growth,” Bradway said.

Amgen’s best-selling drug in the first quarter was Prolia, an osteoporosis treatment, which reached sales of $999 million, up 8% year-over-year.

Amgen ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents worth $9.7 billion.