Looking for reasons to take over Amgen
By Karen Bernstein

Now that the heavy breathing has subsided over the possible acquisition of Amgen Inc., there's time to step back and think about the company's potential in that regard.

AMGN shares finally ended the week at $68.438, gaining $5.563, after charging up as high as $76.125 on hot speculation that the company was about to be snatched up by Bristol Myers-Squibb for $90 to $100 a share. Other, less enthusiastic, rumors put Roche in the buyer's seat at about $80.

AMGN's predictable refusal to comment on rumors, plus such provocative findings as the unexplained absence of Chairman and CEO Gordon Binder from a major Biotechnology Industry Organization meeting that had been calendared long in advance, helped to fuel the binge. Traders moved 26.8 million AMGN shares last week.

Not such a deal

But having thought through the issue by the weekend, most analysts concluded that AMGN is not an attractive acquisition target.

Merrill Lynch analyst Jeffrey Casdin noted that only a handful of drug companies could afford the Thousand Oaks, Calif., company, given its $9-10 billion market cap. The company itself has stated publicly that it has no interest in being taken over. And rumors that Bristol-Myers Squibb was the likely acquirer were unceremoneously quashed by a statement from BMY that it "is not, and has not been, in any discussions with Amgen regarding the acquisition of the company."

Matthew Geller of Oppenheimer & Co. said he believes that the rumors about AMGN's imminent takeover are just that - rumors. In speaking with the company, he said their stated policy continues to be that they aren't interested in being taken over.

"There's nothing going on and they don't want to be taken over," he said. He speculated that the Roche rumor started when Binder went to Switzerland on his annual skiing vacation.