Vertex: Biotech Targets Cystic Fibrosis

10/01/2020 5:00 am EST


Mark Skousen

Editor, Forecasts & Strategies, TNT Trader

I am inclined to use the recent market sell-off as a buying opportunity, especially for a company set to prosper no matter who wins the election. I’m referring to Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), suggests Mark Skousen, growth stock specialist and editor of Home Run Trader.

Based in Boston, Vertex is a biotechnology company that specializes in treatments for cystic fibrosis, a progressive genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and, over time, limits the ability to breathe.

More than 30,000 people in the United States are living with the disease, as are more than 70,000 worldwide. Historically, those who survived into adulthood didn’t generally live past the age of 38.

Vertex received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cystic fibrosis treatments for various groups of patients in 2012, 2015 and 2018. It currently treats tens of thousands of patients around the globe with two CF drugs: Kalydeco and Orkambi.

Last October, however, the FDA approved Trikafta — a drug that treats cystic fibrosis by targeting the underlying genetic mutations. It can be used on up to 90% of patients. Trikafta’s approval was a major milestone for Vertex. It is now the company’s top-selling medicine. 

The majority of eligible patients in the United States are already on the drug. And Vertex believes it will be used to effectively treat up to 90% of cystic fibrosis patients around the world. Of course, what really matters are the numbers.

And the numbers are excellent. In the second quarter, operating income at Vertex soared 213% on a 62% increase in revenue. Sales for the last 12 months hit $5.4 billion, up from $3 billion in 2018. And the company has little debt while sitting on $5.5 billion in cash.

Over the past few years, Vertex has expanded its research to several other diseases and is now in the clinic with five medicines. The coronavirus hurt — and in many cases decimated — sales for some companies. 

But revenue and profits are virtually unaffected at Vertex. Plus, Vertex is a serial innovator experiencing blockbuster sales and earnings growth.

It has four approved cystic fibrosis medicines and a broad clinical pipeline with several molecules to treat — and potentially cure — serious diseases outside of cystic fibrosis. So, pick up Vertex Pharmaceuticals at market. 

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