Drug stocks have taken a hit lately as the market has started to worry about political pressures that may come to bear on pricing and affect profits. But stocks of large pharmaceutical companies can often provide stability in times of market volatility and steady dividend income, too.
Over the last five years Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has delivered 67% price appreciation plus healthy dividends, compared with a 49% gain for the S&P 500 Index. Will the next five years be as good? Here are five reasons they could be even better.
As is the case with most established drug companies, Pfizer has had to deal with the expiration of patents and the resulting loss of revenue to generic competition. The company went through several years of loss of exclusivity (LOE) for important drugs such as Viagra and Lipitor. And this summer Pfizer will lose exclusivity for nerve pain treatment drug Lyrica, a source of $4.6 billion, or 8.6%, of the company's revenue last year. Pfizer expects $2.6 billion of headwinds from LOE in 2019 and a decline in Lyrica sales to affect 2020 results as well.
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Fortunately for shareholders, these losses will be slower in the next five years. After the Lyrica LOE, there are no other significant drugs that will become vulnerable to generic competition until the end of 2025.
In the meantime, Pfizer's core portfolio should continue to deliver strong growth. In the latest quarter, the biopharmaceuticals group segment, responsible for 70% of the company's revenue, delivered 11% volume growth and 7% operational growth. Pfizer's top three blockbusters in this group -- Eliquis, Ibrance, and Prevnar 13 -- had 18% revenue growth. No drug accounted for more than 12% of the company's well-diversified portfolio.
Pfizer has worked to strengthen and focus its research and development program, beginning with its acquisition of Wyeth ten years ago. Since then the company has cut back from working in 13 therapeutic areas to six, and in 2017 announced its "Up to 15 in 5" initiative, identifying 15 potential blockbusters among the drug candidates in its pipeline that it believes it could launch by 2022.
That initiative was an aggressive goal, and in fact Pfizer isn't going to hit all 15. Two drug developments have been discontinued because they failed in late-stage testing, and a third, tanezumab for pain, is on the ropes, and is probably a loss. But success from even a few of the programs would deliver nice growth five years from now. Pfizer has had approvals in three of the 15 programs and is expecting a decision from the FDA next month for a combination of Bavencio and Inlyta for first line treatment of renal cell carcinoma, and in July for rare disease treatment tafamidis. Phase 3 readouts from three other drugs on this list are expected this year.
There is also some potential upside to the pipeline in the next five years beyond these 15 key programs. Pfizer is building a portfolio of biosimilars and expects up to four approvals this year that together could eventually add up to over $1 billion in annual sales. The company is also working on developing a gene therapy business through partnerships with companies such as Sangamo Therapeutics. Pfizer is a strong partner for small biotechs in this area due to a significant manufacturing capability and an extensive sales force.
Pfizer has enormous cash flow and a strong balance sheet that would enable it to make major acquisitions if it wanted to. But the company has made it clear that it's going to focus on smaller and less risky purchases that add to its areas of focus.
Last week the company announced it's buying privately held biotech Therachon Holding AG for $810 million. Therachon has completed a phase 1 study of a drug for treatment of achondroplasia, a genetic disease that is the most common form of short-limbed dwarfism. The purchase adds to Pfizer's rare disease portfolio and research programs for pediatric growth disorders.
In the next five years, Pfizer will grow faster by getting smaller. The company has separated out its slower-growth businesses into separate units, and spinning them off would increase Pfizer's growth rate and possibly the stock's valuation.
The one spin-off that's already in progress is Pfizer's consumer healthcare business. Last year the company announced a creative deal with GlaxoSmithKline to combine the two company's consumer units into a single entity that will eventually become a stand-alone company. Pfizer's consumer business is a drag on growth, declining 2% operationally last quarter.
A more intriguing possibility is the spin-off of Pfizer's Upjohn unit. Upjohn is where the company has grouped its drugs that have lost exclusivity or soon will. But the company isn't in a hurry to dump this business. It realizes there is a huge potential market for Viagra, Lipitor, Zoloft, and others in emerging markets where there has been little access to these drugs while prices were high. Pfizer moved a lean Upjohn organization with its management to China to take advantage of the opportunity, and now, according to the company, it's the largest pharmaceutical company in that country. The business is predictable with its high cash flow and low risk.
When asked recently if Upjohn might be spun off, CEO Albert Bourla said that it is a possibility, but the priority now is to strengthen that business. I think there's a strong likelihood that the separation will happen within five years. When it does, Pfizer should get two benefits: a big infusion of cash and a faster growth rate.
Pfizer is valued at about four times revenue. If we conservatively estimate that Upjohn would go for half that at twice annual revenue, it would be worth about $25 billion. Pfizer's revenue grew 1.6% in the latest quarter. Without the consumer and Upjohn businesses, revenue growth would have been 3.4%. Spinning off these two groups in the next five years could easily add two percentage points of growth to the top line and more than that to earnings growth.
Pfizer pays a generous 3.5% dividend and has plenty of cash flow to allow it to continue raising the payout each year. Last year the company had $15.8 billion in operating cash flow and used $8.0 billion for paying the dividend and $12.2 billion in share repurchases. Pfizer views the share repurchases as a way to keep earnings per share rising in a time of stagnant top line growth without having to cut the research and development budget.
Share repurchases will be cut back to $9 billion in 2019, and once revenue growth picks up again, the company should have even more flexibility with capital allocation. Dividend growth is a priority for Pfizer, so we could see dividends growing faster than the 6% increase in 2018. But if we conservatively estimate that the company will continue raising the quarterly payout by $0.02 every year, which has been the pattern since 2010, the dividend would increase 28% in the next five years, with plenty of upside potential when top line growth resumes.
Of course things could go wrong for Pfizer. The market is obsessing over "Medicare for All" and other proposals being floated in advance of next year's election that could result in new pressures on drug prices. Drug companies have faced this for years in the form of pressure from insurance payers and pharmacy benefit managers and have largely factored declining prices into their plans. But if a major change to the country's healthcare system happens, Pfizer would be affected along with the rest of the sector.
Drug trials can fail and new competitors can arise, but Pfizer is in a better position than most, with a lot of promising drug candidates in its pipeline and a diversified portfolio that isn't overly dependent on sales of any particular medicine.
Pfizer's slow growth may seem unexciting, but a predictable business paying a high dividend may be just what the doctor ordered. The drug giant outperformed the market the last five years, and the evidence points to even better results for patient shareholders in the next five.
在过去的五年中，辉瑞（Pfizer）（ NYSE ： PFE ）实现了67%的价格上涨和健康的分红，而标准普尔500指数则增长了49%。未来五年会是这样好吗？这有五个原因，它们可能更好。
与大多数老牌制药公司的情况一样，辉瑞（Pfizer）不得不应对专利到期以及由此造成的仿制药竞争收入损失。公司在伟哥、立普妥等重要药品上经历了数年的独家代理权（ LOE ）丧失。今年夏天，辉瑞（Pfizer）将失去神经疼痛治疗药物 Lyrica 的独家经营权。 Lyrica 去年的收入为46亿美元，占公司总收入的8.6%。辉瑞（Pfizer）预计2019年 LOE 将带来26亿美元的不利影响，而 Lyrica 销量的下降也将影响到2020年的业绩。
图片来源： Getty Images 。
对股东来说幸运的是，未来五年这些亏损将会放缓。在 Lyrica LOE 之后，没有其他重要的药物会在2025年之前变得容易受到仿制药的竞争。
与此同时，辉瑞（Pfizer）的核心产品组合应继续保持强劲增长。最近一个季度，生物制药集团板块，占公司收入的70%，实现销量增长11%，运营增长7%。辉瑞（Pfizer）在该集团的三大重磅炸弹—— Eliquis 、 Ibrance 和 Prevnar 13——收入增长了18%。没有药品占公司多元化投资组合的12%以上。
这一举措是一个积极的目标，事实上辉瑞（Pfizer）不会达到所有15个。两种药物开发已经停止，因为他们在后期试验中失败了，第三种，用于疼痛的坦尼索马，在绳索上，可能是一个损失。但即使是少数几个项目的成功，也将在五年后带来良好的增长。辉瑞（Pfizer）公司已经批准了15个项目中的三个，并预计下个月 FDA 将决定联合 Bavencio 和 Inleta 治疗肾细胞癌，并于7月份决定用于罕见疾病的治疗。预计今年还会有其他三种药物进入第三阶段。
除了这15个关键项目外，未来5年，这条管道还有一些潜在的好处。辉瑞（Pfizer）正在构建生物仿制药的产品组合，预计今年将有多达4个批准项目，这些项目的年销售额最终可能超过10亿美元。该公司还通过与 Sangamo Therapeutics 等公司合作开发基因治疗业务。辉瑞（Pfizer）是该领域小型生物技术的强大合作伙伴，因为其强大的制造能力和广泛的销售队伍。
上周，该公司宣布以8.1亿美元收购私有生物技术公司 Therrachon Holding AG 。Therrachon 已经完成了治疗跟腱发育不良（一种最常见的短肢侏儒症）的药物的第一阶段研究。此次收购增加了辉瑞（Pfizer）公司的罕见疾病组合和儿童生长障碍的研究项目。
辉瑞( Pfizer )正在进行的一项分拆是消费者保健业务。去年，该公司宣布与葛兰素史克( GlaxoSmithKline )达成一项创造性协议，将两家公司的消费者部门合并为一个单一实体，最终将成为一个独立的公司。辉瑞（Pfizer）的消费者业务拖累了经济增长，上个季度业务下降了2%。
更有趣的可能性是辉瑞（Pfizer）的 Upjohn 部门的分拆。Upjohn 是该公司将已经失去独占性或即将失去排他性的药物分组的地方。但该公司并不急于放弃这项业务。该公司意识到，在新兴市场， Viagra 、 Lipitor 、 Zo阁楼等公司存在巨大的潜在市场，这些公司在价格高企的情况下很难获得这些药物。辉瑞（Pfizer）将其管理层的精益 Upjohn 组织迁至中国，以利用这一机会。据该公司称，辉瑞现在是中国最大的制药公司。该业务现金流高，风险低，可预测。
当最近被问及 Upjohn 是否可能被剥离时，首席执行官 AlbertBourla 说这是一种可能性，但现在的首要任务是加强这一业务。我认为很有可能在五年内分离。当这样做的时候，辉瑞（Pfizer）应该得到两个好处：大量注入现金和更快的增长速度。
辉瑞（Pfizer）的估值约为其收入的四倍。如果我们保守地估计 Upjohn 将以每年两次的收入获得一半的收益，那么它将价值约250亿美元。辉瑞（Pfizer）最近一个季度的收入增长了1.6%。如果没有消费者和 Upjohn 业务，收入增长将达到3.4%。在未来五年内分拆这两类公司，很容易将增长速度提高两个百分点，超过盈利增长。
当然，对辉瑞（Pfizer）来说事情可能是错误的。市场对“全民医保”（ Medicare for All ）以及其他在明年大选前提出的可能给药品价格带来新压力的提议感到着迷。制药公司多年来一直面临着来自保险支付者和医药福利管理者的压力，并在很大程度上将价格下降纳入其计划。但如果该国医疗保健系统发生重大变化，辉瑞（Pfizer）将与该行业其他部门一起受到影响。