Biotech and many of the so-called Big Pharma have been duds in 2019. Despite many FDA approvals and some powerful mergers and royalty deals, the political pressure around drug pricing and toward universal health care is also coming at a time when the entire sector has to worry about similar exposure that some companies are facing due to the opioid crisis.
This brings an incredible set up ahead of two big earnings reports coming Tuesday morning. Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) are set to report their most recent quarterly results before the opening bell tomorrow. Both stocks have underperformed the Dow Jones industrials, but this leaves a lot of upside for Tuesday morning’s reports.
These are the two pure-play pharma stocks that are the most highly followed in their industry. Pfizer is again one of the most shorted of all Dow stocks, but its share performance has been bad enough that its dividend yield is nearly 4.0%. Merck’s shares come with close to a 2.7% dividend yield, based on the current share price. Pfizer’s dividend is so much higher than Merck’s because Pfizer shares are down so much in 2019.
Ahead of the report, Merrill Lynch reinstated coverage on Merck with a Neutral rating and $90 price objective and Pfizer also as Neutral but with a $37 price objective.
Merck shares are nearly 8% higher year to date and are up closer to 17% in the past 52 weeks. This pharma giant has consensus estimates calling for $1.24 in EPS and $11.63 billion in revenue. The same period of last year reportedly had $1.19 in EPS and $10.79 billion in revenue.
Shares of Merck traded at $82.18 on Monday, in a 52-week range of $70.12 to $87.35. The consensus price target is $95.93.
Pfizer shares are doing far worse, and it is in fact the second-worst stock in the Dow. Shares are down about 16% year to date. In the past 52 weeks, the stock is down closer to 13%. The consensus estimates are $0.62 in EPS and $12.26 billion in revenue. In the same period of last year, it said it had $0.78 in EPS and $13.30 billion.
Shares of Pfizer were up over 1%, at $37.30 in a 52-week range of $33.97 to $46.47. The consensus analyst target is $41.45.