Pharma's Most Impervious Pipeline

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As a follow-up to Friday's look into some of the worst pharmaceutical pipelines, I felt it would be only prudent to offer a glance into possibly the most rock-solid pipeline in the business. I know some of you will look at this choice with disdain or perhaps place an asterisk next to the company, but Teva Pharmaceutical (Nasdaq: TEVA  ) is truly in a class of its own.

Teva Pharmaceutical is a generic-drug vulture -- waiting in the corner to feast on larger pharmaceutical companies' patent plights. The company has roughly 1,250 drugs in its pipeline and countless others waiting for FDA approval. This isn't to say that Teva doesn't bring its own drugs to market, because it has developed Copaxone for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and Azilect for Parkinson's disease. But the company's primary objective is to corner the generic-drug market worldwide, and up until now it's done just that.

Since purchasing Barr Laboratories three years ago, revenue has soared. The company reported a shade over $11 billion in revenue in 2008, and current projections call for the company to rake in more than $20 billion in sales in 2012. Although most of Teva's competition is private, Teva likely brings in more each year than Ranbaxy International, Novartis' (NYSE: NVS  ) generic-drug division Sandoz International, and Watson Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: WPI  ) combined!                                                                                    

Teva is trading at less than 8 times forward earnings, which puts it in the same "cheap" territory as Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY  ) and AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN  ) . However, as I pointed out last week, these two companies are slated to potentially lose a big chunk of their revenue stream from patent expirations over the next four years.

Teva, on the other hand, has Copaxone, which accounts for $3.3 billion in annual sales, under patent until 2014. Even a worst-case scenario that sees multiple competitors after 2014 isn't a potential disaster for Teva, which has literally thousands of generic applications currently pending approval.

Teva is a monster that has produced $3.43 billion in free cash flow in the trailing 12 months and pays out a dividend slowly approaching 2%. Investors hammered the stock last week after its experimental drug Laquinimod took a seat behind Biogen Idec's (Nasdaq: BIIB  ) multiple sclerosis drug BG-12. Again, disappointing but not crippling news.

With the stock down more than 25% from its 52-week high on some temporarily disappointing news, I feel Teva merits a second look from shareholders because this pipeline is about as impervious to fluctuations as it gets. Finding a pipeline that can grow at a double-digit pace with minimal risks is simply too good to pass up.

Would you pass on Teva at these levels or is the stock worth its weight in generic drugs? Voice your opinion in the comments section below and consider adding Teva Pharmaceutical as well as your own personalized portfolio of stocks to My Watchlist.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He would like to remind you not to forget about our friends in Japan who could still use a helping hand. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong. Teva Pharmaceutical and Novartis are Motley Fool Global Gains picks. The Fool owns shares of Teva Pharmaceutical. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that's always cutting-edge and never generic.

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (16)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 25, 2011, at 5:05 PM, CMFStan8331 wrote:

    Teva looks extremely cheap to me right now, given everything they already have going on AND the virtual certainty that as a society, we will have no choice but to place a far greater emphasis on generic drugs in the coming years and decades.

    Short-term thinking about the competitive positioning of Teva's non-generic drugs is offering a great buying opportunity. I haven't opened a position yet, but expect to soon.

  • Report this Comment On April 25, 2011, at 5:56 PM, EquityBull wrote:

    TEVA is likely a double within 5 years or less amounting to 20% plus annual returns. The stock is mispriced due to short term psychology today and that is just fine. It gives those with an eye to the future a chance to pick this gem up with an enormous margin of safety.

    I'd like to see TEVA increase the dividend a little and also pay down the debt with its enormous cash flow. Aside from these suggestions I think the business is running extremely well and the future prospects are incredible. People will kick themselves in a few years when this company and stock explode upwards.

    I am long TEVA and have been adding on this pullback opportunity (thank you Mr. Market)

  • Report this Comment On April 26, 2011, at 7:07 AM, marc5477 wrote:

    With all the expiring patents in the next two years, TEVA will easily overcome any hiccups to their MS drugs.

    They are near a 52wk low. They have a reasonably low PE and their earning keep increasing compared to other pharmas. They also have some potential in their pipeline.

    Like others have said, I wish they would raise the dividend to something more substantial.

  • Report this Comment On May 01, 2011, at 12:42 AM, Paladin306 wrote:

    I already have some TEVA stock as well as some options. But, with the recent drop I've also established a synthethic long with 2013 LEAPS. Sooner or later, Mr. Market will wake up to the value in TEVA and I hope to be there when he does.

  • Report this Comment On May 07, 2011, at 7:24 PM, UFOFred wrote:

    I sold a $50 June put on TEVA about a month ago, and then bought the stock too. If I get assigned (and have to buy at $50), I'll have a bit more that I'd planned but I think that's OK. Since I got over $2 for the put if assigned, my cost will be just under $48, which is close to the current price.

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