Skeptical investors demanding R&D strategy, dividends at Amgen meeting

Sitting on $17 billion, Amgen ($AMGN) is bracing for a tense meeting with investors who want to see what the big biotech will do with its cache of cash and whether it has anything in the pipeline that can soon follow the successful path carved out by its bone drug denosumab.

By any measure, Amgen is the biggest biotech company in the world. And much like many Big Pharma companies, it faces seismic market forces as patents expire, generic competition looms and payers look for savings. A whole crew of analysts expect to see Amgen respond this week with its first dividend ever. And it will likely face some considerable skepticism as execs review the company's top pipeline prospects--which include a new drug for pancreatic cancer, a blockbuster contender dubbed AMG479, as well as an experimental antibody designed to build bones.

"They have been talking about Phase IIs for the better part of five years and nothing has come of it," Sanford Bernstein analyst Geoffrey Porges tells Reuters. "They need to deliver some of those drugs in major indications or shut them down." Bain & Co.'s Tim van Biesen had an even bleaker assessment.

"There has been a fundamental shift in healthcare industries. Investors no longer place any meaningful value on the pipeline...The stocks are now mostly owned by the likes of people who would own utilities."

- here's the story from Reuters