Big drugmakers don’t always deliver especially impressive growth. As a result, their stocks sometimes plod along. Many of them pay dividends and make income-seeking investors happy. But growth-oriented investors are often left in the lurch.
That’s not always the case, though. We asked three Motley Fool contributors to pick pharma stocks that have solid growth potential. Here’s why they think Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), and Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) could make investors richer in November (and beyond.)
An underrated drugmaker
David Jagielski (Amgen): Investing in a growth stock that also pays dividends can make it relatively easy to enrich your portfolio over the long haul. Drug manufacturer Amgen fits the bill nicely, paying a dividend yield of 3.2% that’s well above the S&P 500 average of just 1.4%. The dividend alone could bring you more than $320 every year on a $10,000 investment. Multiply that by however many years you plan to hold the stock, and the larger those numbers get.
Dividends aren’t a guarantee but they can be relatively safe when you’re investing in a company with solid financials, which Amgen has. For three straight years, the company’s profit margin has been at least 28% of revenue. That’s impressive and, when you couple that with long-term growth, can pave the way to some fantastic results.
And growth is something that Amgen can offer investors. In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the company’s non-small cell lung cancer drug Lumakras. It’s an important development as the drug can be used to treat patients with the KRAS G12C mutation, which Amgen states “has challenged cancer researchers for more than 40 years with many deeming it as ‘undruggable.'”
Analysts believe the drug has the makings of a blockbuster, with annual sales topping $1.4 billion as early as 2023. And that’s just for lung cancer; Amgen is also looking at other indications for the drug, including possibly treating colorectal cancer.
That’s why although Amgen’s most recent earnings report may be underwhelming — its top line of $6.7 billion for the period ending Sept. 30 grew by just 4% year over year — it could make for an underrated growth stock in the years ahead. Lumakras has already generated $45 million in revenue for the company this year.
To sweeten the deal, Amgen is also a cheap buy, trading at a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 13. That’s considerably less than the 34 times future earnings that investors are paying for drugmaker Eli Lilly. Although it’s been a tough year for Amgen with its stock down 7% year to date while the S&P 500 has soared 24%, its future looks bright and it can be a great option for a conservative investor who wants to get richer without taking on a lot of risk.
A business built to last
Prosper Junior Bakiny (Pfizer): Most of the conversations surrounding Pfizer of late have been about its coronavirus vaccine, Comirnaty, which it developed in collaboration with BioNTech. On the one hand, that’s not surprising: Comirnaty is having a profound effect on Pfizer’s financial results. During the third quarter ending Sept. 30, the drugmaker reported $24.1 billion in revenue — 130% higher than the year-ago period.
You’d expect to see top-line growth of this magnitude in the earnings report of an early-stage tech company, not a seasoned pharmaceutical giant like Pfizer — and it owes this performance to Comirnaty. With that said, there are other reasons to consider adding shares of Pfizer to your portfolio.
Over the past couple of years, it has become a more focused business, thanks to it shedding its consumer health and off-patent medicine units, both of which had become deadweights on its bottom line. This change will allow the company to prioritize its more profitable biopharma operations moving forward, and on that front, things look very promising.
Pfizer boasts 29 programs in phase 3 studies and many more in early-stage clinical trials. As the company earns new approvals or label expansions, it will replenish its already solid lineup. In the third quarter, Pfizer’s revenue minus Comirnaty grew by 7% year over year to $11.1 billion. That’s much more in line with the company’s similarly sized peers in the pharma industry.
Products such as anticoagulant Eliquis and cancer medicine Xtandi continue to drive growth. Sales of the former grew by 21% year over year to $1.3 billion in the third quarter. Meanwhile, revenue from Xtandi came in at $309 million, 16% higher than the prior-year quarter. And in addition to its deep pipeline, Pfizer has $20.57 billion in free cash flow it can use to acquire promising clinical compounds from smaller drugmakers. Lastly, Pfizer is an excellent option for dividend-seeking investors, with a 3.23% dividend yield — compared to the S&P 500’s 1.29%.
After slightly outpacing the mark since the beginning of the year, I expect Pfizer to continue doing the same in the long run.
Firing on all cylinders
Keith Speights (Eli Lilly): Few big drugmakers are firing on all cylinders like Eli Lilly. The company recently reported terrific third-quarter results. Revenue jumped 18% year over year, while adjusted earnings soared 38%.
Sure, a big chunk of that growth came from Lilly’s COVID-19 antibody therapy. But even factoring those sales out altogether, the company’s revenue increased by an impressive 11% year over year.
Lilly’s product lineup includes multiple big winners. Autoimmune disease drugs Olumiant and Taltz, cancer drugs Cyramza and Verzenio, and diabetes drug Trulicty especially stand out. Newer cancer drugs Retevmo and Tyvyt are also picking up momentum.
The pharma stock has already skyrocketed more than 50% so far in 2021. Even with its relatively high forward earnings multiple, I think Lilly has more room to run. I’m especially watching two key regulatory approvals that could be on the way soon.
Lilly is using a priority review voucher with its submission for FDA approval of tirzepatide in treating type 2 diabetes. It also has initiated a rolling submission for FDA accelerated approval of donanemab in treating early Alzheimer’s disease.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.