SunTrust Has Large Cap Dividend Pharma Stocks to Buy Now

September 30, 2016 by 247lee

Despite the political uproar over some pharmaceutical pricing, the fact of the matter is that once the political cycle is over, it’s entirely possible a lot of the rhetoric and hyperbole will die down. Politicians love to pick on pharmaceutical companies, and they can be an easy target during campaign season. At the end of the day, they will survive and continue to grow and, best of all, pay dependable dividends.

A new report from SunTrust Robinson Humphrey has an end-of-the-quarter sector update on large cap pharmaceuticals. Five companies are mentioned in the report, and three of them are rated Buy. We highlight the three stocks that are favorites at SunTrust.

AbbVie

This is one of the top global pharmaceutical stocks picks across Wall Street. AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 following separation from Abbott Laboratories. The company’s mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to develop and market advanced therapies that address some of the world’s most complex and serious diseases. AbbVie employs more than 26,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in more than 170 countries.

One of the biggest concerns with AbbVie is what eventually might happen with anti-inflammatory therapy Humira, which generated $14 billion in sales in fiscal 2015. That was the most any drug has recorded during a single year and represents a gigantic part of the company’s overall earnings. The problem is that biosimilars and generics are itching to enter the market with Amgen leading the charge, and some Wall Street analysts project that AbbVie may have a difficult time stopping that trend.

Back in May, the patent board instituted Coherus BioSciences’ Inter Partes Review against the Humira ‘135 patent. The outcome of the review is expected in 12 months. While most analysts remain positive on Humira duration, the expected litigation uncertainty could continue to create an overhang on the stock, which does give investors chances to pick up shares lower.

The SunTrust team notes that the stock trades at a small discount to its large pharmaceutical peers, and they cite the biosimilar issue as a likely reason why. They also think some on Wall Street are still less than thrilled over the steep price the company paid to buy Pharmacyclics.

AbbVie investors receive a 3.63% dividend. The SunTrust price target for the stock is $85, and the Wall Street consensus target is $71.28 Shares closed Thursday at $62.88.

Eli Lilly

This is another company with substantial upside potential. Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) is a global health care company with numerous core products in a number of primary-care pharmaceutical markets. The company generates revenues from its pharmaceutical product and animal health segments.

The product portfolio includes Zyprexa (for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), Gemzar (pancreatic cancer), Evista (osteoporosis), Cymbalta (depression), Cialis (erectile dysfunction), Strattera (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Erbitux (cancer) and Alimta (chemotherapy). Eli Lilly also has a strong presence in the diabetes market.

Eli Lilly reported mixed second-quarter results that were slightly under consensus and reiterated its full-year guidance. While the overall numbers were unremarkable in some analysts’ views, the SunTrust team is still very focused on the company’s outstanding late-stage product pipeline, which they view as very undervalued. They noted in the report:

Lilly is presenting on multiple other clinical trials, which read out in the 2017-2018 time-frame. Safety data from Phase 2LY3023414/Portrazza after first-line chemotherapy in metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Preliminary safety and efficacy data from Phase 2 study of cell cycle checkpoint kinases 1 and 2 (CHK1/2) inhibitor (LY2606368; prexasertib) in sporadic triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Phase 3 ramucirumab data on prognosis, efficacy and safety by liver etiology in treatment of patients with second-line treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Eli Lilly shareholders receive a 2.56% dividend. SunTrust has a $107 price target, and the consensus target is $95.67. Shares closed Thursday at $79.74.

Merck

This leading health care stock is on the focus lists of many of the firms we cover. Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy symptoms, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal infections, intra-abdominal infections, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, male pattern hair loss and fertility diseases.

The company also provides neuromuscular blocking agents for use in surgery, anti-bacterial products for skin and skin structure infections, cholesterol modifying medicines, non-sedating antihistamine and vaginal contraceptive products. Other products to prevent chemotherapy-induced and post-operative nausea and vomiting, treat brain tumors, treat melanoma and metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer and prevent diseases caused by human papillomavirus, as well as vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, chickenpox, shingles, rotavirus gastroenteritis and pneumococcal diseases.

Further, it provides antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs to treat infectious and respiratory diseases, fertility disorders, and pneumonia in cattle, horses and swine; vaccines for poultry; parasiticide for sea lice in salmon; and antibiotics for the treatment of C. difficile, and vaccines against bacterial and viral disease in fish.

The SunTrust report noted:

Merck has a strong balance sheet and cash-generating ability along with a pipeline and in-line product portfolio to offset weakness in any single product. However, risks to our rating and target price include: 1) greater-than-expected decline in Vytorin/Zetia volume from Lipitor generics coupled with potentially negative results from the IMPROVE-IT outcomes study in late 2014; 2) deceleration in the Januvia franchise from competitors including for oral DPP-IV’s and oral SGLT-2’s; Isentress (integase inhibitor) franchise pressures in the HIV market; 3) potentially negative Phase III trial results /restricted labels for key pipeline products, Belsomra (insomnia), odanacatib (osteoporosis), Keytruda (immunoncology) and anacetrapib (atherosclerosis); and 4) global pricing risk. On the other hand, stronger-than-expected uptake for vaccines, including Gardasil (HPV vaccine)/Zostavax (shingles), and a robust uptake of new products suvorexant/odanacatib could cause our target price to be exceeded.

Merck shareholders receive a 2.96% dividend. The $73 SunTrust price target is well above the consensus target of $66.11 and the most recent close at $61.91.

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Any of these three top companies makes an outstanding addition to more conservative portfolios. While big pharmaceuticals don’t grow earnings like the big biotech leaders, they are also far less volatile and act better if the market gets dicey.