Novartis: Restructured Opportunities

04/27/2016 8:00 am EST


Gavin Graham

Chief Strategy Officer, INTEGRIS Pension Management Ltd

Our latest featured recommendation is a Swiss-based pharmaceutical company formed by the merger of Basel-based Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy, notes Gavin Graham, contributing editor to Internet Wealth Builder.

One of the ten largest drug companies in the world, Novartis AG (NVS) recently undertook a major restructuring of its businesses.

This involved selling its vaccines business to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in exchange for Glaxo's oncology (cancer) drugs.

The company also combined over-the-counter consumer products with Glaxo in a joint venture in which it now holds 36.5%.

Novartis has major strengths in oncology, eye disease through its Alcon subsidiary, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and diabetes.

As a Swiss company, its reported results were affected by the decision of the Swiss National Bank to stop pegging the Swiss franc to the euro.

Novartis generates less than 5% of its sales in Switzerland but such violent currency moves obviously make its reported numbers appear weaker than would otherwise be the case.

Demonstrating that many investors are unable to cope with a large number of moving parts, Novartis's share price has declined 30% since mid 2015.

Meanwhile, Novartis will also be centralizing drug manufacturing and development operations; management estimates the moves will save $1 billion annually by 2020, at a cost of $1.4 billion spread over the next five years.

Novartis, which pays one annual dividend in May, increased it by 4%, giving the stock it a yield of 3.87%. Taking 2015 core EPS, Novartis is only selling at 15 times historic earnings.

With net sales and core operating earnings forecast to be in line with 2015 on a constant currency basis, Novartis is one of the cheapest major drug companies.

Novartis has an excellent product pipeline (34% of 2015 revenues were from growth products introduced since 2010) and strengths in areas that are set to experience sustained growth. The stock remains a buy.

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By Gavin Graham, Contributing Editor to Internet Wealth Builder

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