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EARNINGS PREVIEW: U.S. Biotech Companies Seen Focusing on Drug Pipelines

By Tess Stynes TAKING THE PULSE: As large U.S. biopharmaceuticals companies report their second-quarter results, investors are likely to remain focused on their efforts to expand their drug pipelines and bring new treatments to market. Biotech companies have been facing some of the same concerns as traditional drug manufacturers as sales trends for older drugs slow and competition continues to intensify. The market also is likely to be watching for any details about how acquisition strategies and collaborations have been faring. COMPANIES TO WATCH: Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB) - reports July 24 Wall Street Expectations: Analysts expect earnings of $1.56 a share on revenue of $1.33 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. A year earlier, earnings were $1.18 share, or $1.36 a share excluding acquisition-related write-downs, on revenue of $1.21 billion. Key Issues: Biogen's late-stage product pipeline, which includes an experimental pill for multiple sclerosis that could go on sale early next year, has been in focus recently. The company also has potential treatments for hemophilia and Lou Gehrig's disease that will have data releases from key studies later this year. The company has been placing its hopes on BG-12, its oral multiple-sclerosis treatment. Biogen thinks the drug has broad potential in a market where most treatments are injected, making them less convenient. Amgen Inc. (AMGN) - reports July 26 Wall Street Expectations: Analysts predict earnings of $1.53 a share on revenue of $4.07 billion. A year earlier, per-share profit was $1.25 a share, or $1.37 excluding acquisition-related expenses and other items, on revenue of $3.96 billion. Key Issues: Amgen--a biotech pioneer and now the biggest stand-alone biotech company--has been pursuing deals to bolster its research-and-development pipeline and increase sales of its osteoporosis drugs to help offset declining sales trends for its key anti-anemia drugs. Recent deals include Amgen's roughly $1.16 billion acquisition of Micromet Inc. in a bid to strengthen its cancer-drug pipeline. Investors also likely will be watching the performance of Amgen's new chief executive, Robert Bradway, who took the helm in May. Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) - reports July 26 Wall Street Expectations: Analysts expect earnings of 96 cents a share on revenue of $2.29 billion. A year earlier, the company reported earnings of 93 cents a share, or $1 a share excluding acquisition-related write-downs, on revenue of $2.14 billion. Key Issues: The market has been focusing on Gilead's progress in developing new drugs to replace individual HIV drugs that will come off patent in the next decade. Gilead's HIV treatment known as the Quad recently received backing from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel. The treatment--which combines four active ingredients into one pill meant to be taken once daily--reflects the company's strategy of simplifying HIV therapy through development of a number of single-pill combination treatments. Many HIV patients now take multiple pills for treatment. The market also has been watching for any developments stemming from Gilead's $11 billion acquisition of Pharmasset Inc. and its early-stage drug being tested to treat and potentially cure the hepatitis-C virus. Celgene Corp. (CELG) - reports July 26 Wall Street Expectations: Analysts are expecting earnings of $1.18 a share on revenue of $1.35 billion. A year ago, Celgene reported earnings of 59 cents a share, or 89 cents excluding acquisition and restructuring related charges and other items, on revenue of $1.18 billion. Key Issues: Celgene has been trying to expand uses of its flagship blood-cancer treatment Revlimid to new diseases such as multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Last month, the company had a setback as its withdrew its application for use of Revlimid as a maintenance therapy after European regulators raised questions about its links to other cancers. Celgene also was re-evaluating its submission to the FDA and expected to submit an application next year. (The Thomson Reuters estimates and year-earlier earnings may not be comparable due to one-time items and other adjustments.) Write to Tess Stynes at Tess.Stynes@dowjones.com.

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