The 2016 Bullish and Bearish Case for Pfizer, Merck, Johnson & Johnson

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Now that 2015 has ended, 24/7 Wall St. wanted to see what the strategists and analysts on Wall Street expect for the stock market in 2016. It turns out the bull market was interrupted in 2015 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed out the year at 17,425.03 for a change of -2.2% for the year. That may be hardly a reason to call a bear market ahead, but it is after six straight years of gains.

Major pharmaceutical companies are at a fork in the road as 2016 begins. The question is whether these companies will run with the bulls or side with the bears for the year. Last year was somewhat mixed for these giants, but it’s no reason to hold them back. 24/7 Wall Street has evaluated three major Dow components in the pharmaceutical industry and presented the bullish and bearish case for each in 2016. These include Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

If the analyst community is right, it could be a good year for Big Pharma investors. The flip side of that coin is that the bumpy start of 2016 for stocks might have to temper some of these high expectations.

Pfizer

Pfizer had a relatively positive 2015, as it is currently involved in a merger with Allergan to form one of the largest pharma companies in the world. We even listed Pfizer as one of the 2016 2016 Dogs of the Dow, ending 2015 with a 3.72% dividend yield.

Back to the merger. This merger potentially may be contested, and even not approved, because Pfizer plans to use this as a tax inversion or a partial inversion. This could create uncertainty for Pfizer in 2016 should it not be approved. On the other hand, this could provide a significant tax break going forward.


Pfizer has a very strong pipeline as it has announced that it is starting 20 clinical trials this year and more soon after on treatments to conquer cancer. It also seeks to gain leadership in one of the hottest and most lucrative areas of medicine. The company currently has eight approved cancer medicines, four of them launched in the past four years. It is running late-stage patient tests on five of those drugs for additional uses and has three other drugs in late-stage testing, which is usually the last round before seeking regulatory’ approval. In addition, the company has 14 other drug programs in early stages.

Shares of Pfizer closed out 2015 at $32.28, with a consensus analyst price target of $40.44 and a 52-week trading range of $28.47 to $36.46.