Gilead Sciences, Antivirals, and Tamiflu

January 26, 2011 by William P. Meyers

Gilead Sciences (GILD) is an enourmously profitable company with a cheap stock price, as measured by its Price to Earnings (P/E) ratio. Yesterday Gilead released in fourth quarter (Q4) 2010 results and held its analyst conference.

Gilead is best known for selling anti-HIV drugs and for Tamiflu for flu, which is sold by Roche. Last year there was a major flu scare, resulting in Q4 2009 royalties including Tamiflu of were $228.0 million. This year royalty revenues were $68.4 million. That is actually up from Q4 2008 royalties of $40.4 million.

Analysts mostly saw 2009 royalty revenues as a one-time event in 2009, but making up for a y/y drop of about $160 million is quite a feat. For the therapies Gilead sells directly, Q4 2010 revenues were up 7% y/y to $1.93 billion versus $1.80 billion. Antiviral product sales were up 5% y/y to $1.7 billion.

Overall revenues were down 2% y/y, but on a very difficult comparison.

How were profits on $2.00 billion in revenues? GAAP net income was $626.4 million. Non-GAAP net income (excluding stock-based compensation and one-time expenses) was $779.3 million. Cash flow from operations was $775 million.

Mostly affecting the stock today was Gilead's stock buy-back plans. In Q4 $614 million was used to repurchase stock. The remaining pre-authorized $2 billion should be used during 2011, and another $2 billion was authorized. Buying back stock has helped keep up earnings per share, which rose, on a non-GAAP basis, to $0.95, up from $0.93 year-earlier despite the lower revenues and non-GAAP net income.

Gilead will be rolling out a number of new therapies over the next few years for HIV and Hepatitis C. In addition, new health guidelines are for physicians to start patients on retrovirals sooner after infection with HIV. This makes for a tremendous pool of new patient adds in the next three years, given that Gilead has a 68.5% share of this market.

Like all major drug inovators, Gilead has had some some potential products that have failed to achieve results. Developing drugs is expensive, and most drug candidates fail to gain FDA approval. You just figure that in as a cost of doing business, spread out over the successful drugs. All drug patents expire eventually, meaning price drops as generics become available, but again that is as it should be, as it spurs companies to continue to search for better drugs. Gilead's upcoming "quad" single pill therapy for HIV is an example of working for continuous improvement instead of sitting still.

Given all that, at some point Wall Street is going to realize that Gilead's PE ratio is too low. In my mind even now it should not be lower than 20. If it rose to 20 tomorrow, from today's 11, the price would run up to $71.35 per share from (as I write) $39.26. Nevertheless, there are risks, including the whims of other investors, so keep diversified!

See also:

my Gilead Sciences Q4 2010 analyst call summary


More Analyst Conference Pages:



Copyright 2011 William P. Meyers