Yesterday, Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY ) beat expectations and raised guidance ... and the stock ended down almost 2%.
Looks like investors are thinking a little more long-term than usual.
Revenue was up 10% at constant currencies, considerably better than peers Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) , Merck (NYSE: MRK ) , and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) . But how much does that really matter with the company facing a massive patent cliff in the next couple of years? Patents on its top three sellers -- Zyprexa, Cymbalta, and Humalog -- expire in 2011, 2014, and 2013, respectively. That's not that far away, Fools.
It would be OK if Eli Lilly had a pipeline of late-stage molecules to make up for the loss of those blockbusters, but that just isn't the case. The drugmaker has 66 compounds in clinical trials, but most are still in phase 1. Only seven of those drugs are in phase 3 trials at the moment, and it has one awaiting regulatory approval, not counting drugs submitted through partnerships, such as once-weekly Byetta with Amylin Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: AMLN ) and Alkermes.
There is some potential for growth of recently approved drugs. Effient, which was approved earlier this month, will compete with sanofi-aventis' (NYSE: SNY ) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE: BMY ) multibillion-dollar blockbuster, Plavix, but it's not likely to take much of Plavix's sales, what with its current limited approval. Alimta got its label expanded this month as well, but it's not going to be enough to make up for the $4 billion-plus in lost sales of Zyprexa that will be coming.
Essentially, if you want to invest in Eli Lilly right now, you'll have to be content to enjoy the solid 5.7% dividend yield while you wait for some of those compounds to work their way through the clinical-development marathon. It's not a bad strategy; just don't expect current earnings to do much to move the stock.
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