Amgen's decision to spend another $1 billion to buy back its stock through 1998 was predictably viewed as a means to prop up EPS in the face of a sluggish sales/earnings scenario. Growth of sales for Epogen erythropoietin and Neupogen G-CSF have slowed significantly, and there are no major products on the near horizon to take their place.

Analyst reaction was typified by Cowen & Co.'s Joyce Lonergan, who noted that "we're happy to see Amgen's savvy business acumen in action, but would much prefer to grow EPS based on sales increases rather than financial widgets."