Healthcare Business

Wall Street Sees Big Biotech Making Tens of Billions in Two Critical Areas

Investors make big money in biotechnology stocks when they focus on areas that cut across a wide swath of the population. From obesity to food allergies to prostate cancer, the top companies often try to narrow their focus to be a leader in a category that either affects a large part of the population, has a high barrier to entry or has limited treatments approved and the cost to treat is very expensive.

We spent time recently reviewing research from across Wall Street, looking for the biotechnology stocks that will be making a huge difference in the patient population going forward. We found, almost without exception, that certain companies are poised to take the lead, or already hold the lead, in treatments that fall within the categories that can generate the highest amount of revenue. New research from Credit Suisse and Lazard confirm the thesis that huge money is there to be made by the companies that stay highly focused. We have broken out the categories and the top stocks to buy in them.

Lazard highlighted stocks that will benefit from treatments that target the Th2 immune pathway. The immune system is divided into Th1 and Th2 responses, with dysfunction of the latter being associated with allergic conditions and high levels of eosinophils. In its report, Lazard examined a group of diseases driven by the Th2 immune pathway and often characterized by eosinophilia. These include asthma, atopic dermatitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, food allergies and more, representing a sizable unmet need and commercial opportunity. Here are the stocks likely to benefit from this huge opportunity.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s (NASDAQ: REGN) dupilumab, an IL-4R antibody, has shown exciting results in Phase II in asthma and atopic dermatitis. This program stands out among emerging biologics as having the strongest profile so far. Lazard thinks it is possible that revenue generated from this drug class could help sustain a 20% earnings per share (EPS) compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) by the end of the decade. The firm raised its price target on the stock from $298 to $325. The Thomson/First call estimate for it is at $298.

Also noted in the report, Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) will partner with Regeneron on dupilumab. GlaxoSmithKline PLC (NYSE: GSK) and Array BioPharma Inc. (NASDAQ: ARRY) also figure into the equation of this Th1 and Th2 immune response sector, which is expected to generate huge profits in the not too distant future.

The biotechnology team at Credit Suisse pointed out in their research that the multiple sclerosis (MS) market has grown “massively” over the past 10 years.The global MS market has more than quadrupled in value over the past decade, from $3.6 billion in 2003 to $15.8 billion in 2013, representing a 16% CAGR. Patients treated have doubled from about 350,000 in 2003 to 700,000 in 2013. Here are the stocks involved in this tremendous growth field.

Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) already owns the gigantic Tysabri franchise after it completed the purchase of the interest of partner Elan Corp. PLC (NYSE: ELN) for a massive $3.25 billion in February. Biogen also is partnering with AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) in Phase III trials for Daclizumab. Credit Suisse has a $255 dollar price target on this top name. The consensus price target is $247.50.

Other large companies that will figure into the growing MS market, with products at various stages, include pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY), AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE: AZN), Novartis A.G. (NYSE: NVS), AbbVie and GlaxoSmithKline.

The tremendous profit potential of drugs in these two critical health care areas is staggering, and also the reason that firms are spending tens of millions of dollars in research and development. The drugs targeting the Th2 immune pathway system are estimated by Lazard to be a $10 billion treatment opportunity. While the MS drugs have seen the largest price increases versus almost all other key therapeutic areas, Credit Suisse points out the huge pricing gains will not last forever. With the rate of the disease increasing dramatically as the statistics indicate, demand will surely stay high.

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