HEALTHCARE

Our top pick for 2014 is a biopharmaceutical company, based in La Jolla, CA, that offers investors a unique biotech opportunity; the firm is profitable today, with sustainable and growing profitability going forward, suggests Jim Oberweis, Jr., editor of The Oberweis Report.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND) has a business model that is focused on drug discovery and partnering with pharmaceutical companies at an early development stage.

The company hands off the late-stage drug development, regulatory matters, and commercialization, while collecting royalties, milestones, and license fees in return.

The company made a transformative acquisition of Captisol in 2011, a formulation technology that improves the function of molecules that may otherwise be sub-optimal.

As partnered drugs that depend on Captisol technology get regulatory approval, Ligand earns royalties from subsequent drug sales.

Most recently, in November, Pfizer announced the FDA approval for Duavee, a new treatment for hot flashes and prevention of post-menopausal osteoporosis.

We expect significant near term growth from two blockbuster drugs; Ligand is receiving growing royalty payments from sales of Promacta, for low platelet count (co-discovered by Ligand and GlaxoSmithKline), and from sales of Kyprolis for multiple myeloma.

Ligand currently has five royalty-producing drugs in their portfolio and we think they can nearly double this to nine in 2014, providing additional revenue streams, while diversifying their business even further.

We believe Ligand can grow revenues 38% in 2014 to $65 million, with earnings more than doubling to $1.40 per share.

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Tickers Mentioned: Tickers: LGND

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