If there has been one sector that wishes the 2016 election was already here and gone, it is biotechnology. Shrill political rhetoric over drug pricing and further regulations hammered the sector while we were also in the midst of the worst market downturn since 2011.
The good news for investors is many of the top companies may be poised to post very strong earnings, and in a new research note UBS especially likes three top biotechs into the third-quarter print.
UBS makes the case that, following the recent broad-based selling, earnings can help serve as a catalyst toward lifting share prices in the sector higher. The UBS team thinks sales numbers for most of the top companies in the sector look beatable, and they are especially keen on three top stocks. These three stocks are all sector leaders and rated Buy.
Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) posted outstanding second-quarter earnings, and biotech giant remains a top stock for investors to buy. It focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its biologics manufacturing expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people’s lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be one of the world’s leading independent biotechnology companies, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential.
Many on Wall Street point to the company’s tremendous pipeline and outstanding forward earnings and revenue capabilities. Amgen’s double-digit earnings and revenue growth rate is expected to continue for the foreseeable future because of the company’s very deep clinical pipeline, which includes potential blockbusters Repatha for high cholesterol and Kyprolis for relapsed multiple myeloma. Amgen also has one of the sector’s deepest biosimilar pipelines, which is expected to generate upward of $3 billion in annual sales in the years ahead.
UBS also expects top and bottom line upside driven by Enbrel (with additional price hikes thrown in for good measure) as well as most other products and solid cost control.
Amgen continues to trim its gigantic workforce as it bows to activist hedge fund shareholders. Hedge fund manager Dan Loeb’s Third Point has a big stake in Amgen. Loeb has been pushing the biotech giant to split into two separate companies to boost shareholder value.
Amgen shareholders are paid a 2.13% dividend. The UBS price target for the stock is $168, and the Thomson/First Call consensus target is higher at $185.08. Shares closed Thursday at $149.90.