Three Nasdaq 100 Biotechs:
Gilead Sciences, Biogen Idec, and Celgene

August 13, 2012 by William P. Meyers

When I wrote about Gilead Sciences (GILD), on July 26, 2011, I said "A convergence of factors is driving Gilead profits higher. This trend should accelerate in 2012 and continue through at least 2015." [See Gilead Sciences Readies Pipeline]. Gilead stock that day closed at $42.16. This morning GILD opened at $56.42. While I am a long-term investor, it is encouraging to see these short-term results.

The forward-looking story is now largely about curing Hepatitis C and refreshing Gilead's market-dominating anti-HIV franchise, but first the backward-looking numbers.

In Q2 revenue was $2.41 billion, up 6% sequentially from $2.28 billion and up 13% from $2.14 billion in the year-earlier quarter. GAAP net income was $711.6 million, up 61% sequentially from $442.0 million, but down 5% from $746.2 million in the year-earlier quarter. GAAP earnings per share (EPS) were $0.91, up 60% sequentially from $0.57, but down 2% from $0.93 year-earlier. Eliminating one-time and non-cash items, Non-GAAP EPS was $0.99, up 9% sequentially from $0.91, but down 1% from $1.00 year-earlier.

The y/y EPS showing may make you wonder why the stock is up so much. Bringing the new HIV drugs to the FDA and the hepatitis drugs through clinical trials is adding to expenses. The price of the stock had been beaten down because of fears of expiring patents. The increased revenue promises a healthy dose of future profits since it now appears the HIV franchise will remain strong and hep c revenues may kick in as early as 2014. Recent Phase II hep c trials have been encouraging. The goal is to have a multi-agent, highly effective once-a-day tablet that will completely cure hepatitis C over a reasonably short period of time.

Gilead's P/E Ratio? Just over 17. It's a bargain.

Celgene (CELG) also is generating healthy profits while getting ready to introduce blockbuster therapies over the next few years.

Celgene Q2 revenue was $1.37 billion, up 8% sequentially from $1.27 million and up 16% from $1.18 billion year-earlier. GAAP net income was $367.4 million, down 8% sequentially from $401.5 million but up 32% from $279.2 million year-earlier. GAAP EPS (earnings per share) were $0.82, down 9% sequentially from $0.90, but up 39% from $0.59 year-earlier.

With a 39% y/y growth in GAAP EPS, you might think Celgene would be flying with a higher P/E ratio. Is is just GAAP accounting? No, non-GAAP EPS in Q2 was $1.22, up 13% sequentially from $1.08 and up 37% from $0.89 year-earlier.

Celgene closed a bit down today at $71.85, but a year ago it was selling for under $55. Its P/E Ratio is near 21.

The two new Celgene drugs that could produce revenue in 2013 are Pomalidomide for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma and Apremilast for psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. Safety and efficacy look good for both drugs, but there is always a chance that the FDA will disapprove or cause delays by asking for more clinical data.

Biogen Idec has already proven itself to be one of the big winners of late.

Biogen (BIIB) closed today at $144.54. In 2010 you could have bought it in the fifties most of the year. It has a higher P/E Ratio than Celgene or Gilead at just over 26.

So is BIIB more of a product for profit taking? [Disclaimer: I did already take some profits on this one, but it's gone up since then.]

Q2 revenue was $1.421 billion, up 10% sequentially from $1.292 billion and up 17.5% from $1.209 billion in the year-earlier quarter. GAAP net income was $386.8 million, up 28% sequentially from $302.7 million and up 34% from $288.0 million year-earlier. GAAP EPS (earnings per share) were $1.61, up 29% sequentially from $1.25 and up 36% from $1.18 year-earlier.

That alone would seem to justify the P/E, but like Celgene and Gilead, Biogen has a pipeline that could mint money for investors. The first one coming up for an FDA decision is BG-12 (dimethyl fumarate), an oral therapy for multiple sclerosis. The data looks good and a positive FDA decision would mean a commercial launch this year.

While each of these stocks has its risks, as a group they have a large number of profitable drugs and a large number of therapies in their pipelines. They are all in the NASDAQ 100.

Keep Diversified!

Disclaimer: I am a long-term investor in Gilead Sciences, Celgene, and Biogen Idec. I will not trade in the stock for a week from today.

See also:

my Gilead Sciences Q2 2012 analyst call summary
Celgene Q2 2012 analyst call summary
Biogen Idec Q2 2012 analyst call summary


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Copyright 2012 William P. Meyers