(Adds analyst comment, 2015 forecast, sales details)
By Bill Berkrot
Jan 27 (Reuters) - Amgen Inc on Tuesday reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, driven by strong sales of its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel and a tax credit.
Despite pressure on overseas sales from the strong dollar that has put a crimp in pharmaceutical company profits, Amgen reiterated the 2015 forecast it provided in October for adjusted earnings of $9.05 to $9.40 per share on revenue of $20.8 billion to $21.3 billion. Analysts are estimating earnings of $9.28 per share and revenue of $20.87 billion.
Amgen is less exposed to foreign exchange fluctuations than other large drugmakers as only about 25 percent of its sales come from outside the United States.
Excluding items, Amgen earned $2.16 per share, topping analysts' average expectations by 11 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The results were helped by a research and development tax credit that came through in the quarter, adding about 10 cents per share to earnings, the company said.
On the positive side, RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee said "they affirmed the strong 2015 outlook." But, he added, a good chunk of the earnings beat "came from a tax credit that was not in the guidance."
The world's largest biotechnology company posted a net profit of $1.29 billion, or $1.68 per share, compared with a profit of $1.02 billion, or $1.33 per share, a year ago.
Revenue rose 6 percent to $5.33 billion, edging past Wall Street estimates of $5.19 billion.
Enbrel sales rose 11 percent in the quarter to $1.34 billion, topping analyst expectations of $1.21 billion.
The white blood cell boosters Neupogen and Neulasta had combined worldwide sales of $1.45 billion. The older Neupogen is expected to face competition this year from the first U.S. approved biosimilar version.
Kyprolis, the multiple myeloma drug Amgen acquired with its $10 billion purchase of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, had sales of $91 million, falling short of Wall Street estimates of $109 million.
However, based on positive clinical trial data, Amgen said it filed applications with U.S. and European regulators to approve Kyprolis use earlier in the disease, after one prior treatment has failed rather than two. This should boost future sales.
U.S. approval decisions on two new drugs, ivabradine for heart failure and T-Vec for melanoma, will be delayed by three months each as regulators asked for additional data, which Amgen said it has supplied. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Diane Craft)