Diabetes Drives Novo-Nordisk

02/18/2016 10:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Joe Duarte

Analyst, Investing Daily

In troubled markets, it’s rare to find a company that offers the right mix of safety and potential growth; this new recommendation is one such company, notes Dr. Joe Duarte, editor of Smart Tech Investor.

There are an estimated 24 million diabetics in the United States alone. Worldwide, that number is 371 million, for a global diabetes market worth more than $40 billion.

Novo-Nordisk (NVO), a Denmark-based pioneer of diabetes treatments and other endocrine (glandular system) products, should be well placed for long-term growth.

Novo has a 50% share of the global insulin market and sells its products in more than 180 countries in five regions, including Europe, North America, and East Asia.

In the United States, the company had its best sales growth in the past few years, particularly for its insulin pen.

In the future, Novo also should benefit from growth in China, where an estimated 150 million people will have diabetes by 2040, up from about 100 million today.

The company’s largest sales growth should come from Victoza, a human hormone analog that improves insulin production in the pancreas when blood glucose levels rise above normal.

The drug—a once-per-day injectable medication—is meant for patients with therapy-resistant type II diabetes, a disease that starts in adulthood.

Given its reliable earnings, Novo offers a stronger safety net in a difficult market compared with other, more speculative buys in the biotech and healthcare sectors.

For one thing, the company is flush with cash and had $18 billion on hand in September. Revenue grew 20% year-over-year as well, with 7% growth forecasted for 2016.

Thanks to little debt, Novo also can cover all of its expenses and still have plenty of money left over to regroup if it were to suffer a sudden catastrophic hit to its earnings.

But the company’s pipeline of 11 drugs—four in advanced stages of development—makes such a scenario unlikely.

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