SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Roberto Medrano, Dmitriy Stepanov, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Sean Houghton

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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Amgen, Biogen, Vertex, Celgene and Alexion

CHICAGO, Feb. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Amgen (Nasdaq:AMGN-Free Report), Biogen (Nasdaq:BIIB-Free Report), Vertex (Nasdaq:VRTX-Free Report), Celgene (Nasdaq:CELG-Free Report) and Alexion (Nasdaq:ALXN-Free Report).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog: 

Biotech Stock Roundup

Last week was dominated by earnings announcements with some major biotech companies reporting fourth quarter results.

A Look at Some Earnings Reports & Expectations: Biotech major Amgen (Nasdaq:AMGN-Free Report) kicked off last week with strong fourth quarter results. The big news from Amgen was that it could be in a position to file for approval of its PSCK9 inhibitor, evolocumab, this year. Early approval would give Amgen's experimental drug a head start (over other PSCK9 inhibitors in development) in the multi-billion dollar cholesterol market.

Amgen's guidance for 2014 was a tad disappointing. Not only were estimates towards the lower end of the guidance range, the revenue guidance provided by the company implies a slower growth rate. But if we go by Amgen's past record, guidance could well prove to be conservative – last year, too, the company had started off with a conservative guidance which was increased through the course of the year.

Biogen (Nasdaq:BIIB-Free Report) also topped expectations with its new multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera, continuing to shine. Biogen's revenue guidance was well above expectations though earnings guidance fell short. The company could see three new product launches this year – hemophilia drugs Eloctate and Alprolix, and multiple sclerosis drug Plegridy. But we don't expect much contribution from the hemophilia drugs this year – the hemophilia market is historically a slow-moving market with both physicians and patients being reluctant to switch therapies without real-world experience.

Logistical hurdles also exist. So this year, it will mainly be Tecfidera that will drive growth at Biogen with some help from other multiple sclerosis drugs like Avonex and Tysabri.

Meanwhile, investors ignored Vertex's (Nasdaq:VRTX-Free Report) fourth quarter results and instead focused on the company's plans for its cystic fibrosis (CF) program. Despite posting a wider loss, Vertex saw its shares gaining 4.2%. While hepatitis C (HCV) drug, Incivek, will continue to see a decline in sales, Kalydeco (CF) should keep growing this year thanks to launch in additional markets and label expansion. Investor focus will remain on data from a couple of phase III studies (TRAFFIC and TRANSPORT) evaluating Kalydeco in the delta 508 homozygous population.

Celgene (Nasdaq:CELG-Free Report) had announced preliminary results earlier this year so the company's earnings report was not a surprise. Investor focus will remain on the regulatory status of Otezla which is under FDA review for psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis.

Alexion (Nasdaq:ALXN-Free Report) was a huge gainer last week with the company reporting strong results and guiding above expectations. Soliris is doing well with its first approved indication (paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria) and the second indication (atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome) is surpassing expectations. Shares were up 21.3% on the company's fourth quarter results and guidance. The company will be benefiting from lower tax rates.

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