Gilead Beats by a Billion

05/09/2014 8:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Ian Wyatt

Publisher & Chief Investment Strategist, Wyatt Investment Research

Wall Street is concerned that biotech stocks are running out of new blockbuster drugs and that pricing power is going to erode; this recommendation shows why not all biotech stocks should be treated equally, explains Ian Wyatt, editor of Top Stock Insights.

Gilead Sciences (GILD), a manufacturer of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis treatments, absolutely crushed analyst estimates in the first quarter. Usually, analysts will be off by a little—perhaps a few million dollars in sales and a few pennies in earnings per share.

Not this time. Gilead's revenues in Q1 2014 beat the analyst consensus by $1.5 billion. That's "billion," with a "b." Analysts had expected its new blockbuster hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi to generate sales of $800,000...but they hit $2.3 billion.

Sovaldi has been flying off the shelves. In fact, it has been the biggest success of any new drug in history. Staggering sales meant that GILD's quarterly revenue was $5 billion versus $3.7 billion consensus.

Translated into EPS, GILD beat by a whopping $0.67 by earning $1.52, a 217% increase over Q1 of 2013.

This stock now trades at just 11 times 2014 estimated earnings, yet is likely to grow EPS by well over 100% this year. Why so cheap? Well, the answer gets to the heart of the debate over biotech stocks, in general, right now—what comes next?

Analysts are now being conservative with estimates for Gilead for 2015-2018; (the stock trades at under 10-times estimated 2016 earnings of $7.85). The bottom line is that Gilead looks extremely attractive over the next four years.

What is being overlooked (besides the potential that pricing power doesn't erode and that new drugs are likely to keep being introduced), is that massive earnings growth being enjoyed today means huge cash flow that is swelling the balance sheets of companies like GILD.

What is the company going to do with the extra $10 billion in net income that it's likely to generate over each of the next four years? It can't rush R&D, but it can buy promising pipelines.

This is how it acquired much of its hepatitis B and C portfolio with the $11 billion acquisition of Pharmasset in 2011. That investment is paying off now.

I expect we'll see GILD make more acquisitions over the next two years. The stock remains one of the best buys in the space, and I recommend buying and holding for the long-term.

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