Celgene's Tremendous Year Just Got "Tremendouser"

Before my fifth-grade English teacher sends an email, let me first acknowledge that "tremendouser" isn't actually a word. But if it was, it would definitely apply to Celgene's (NASDAQ: CELG  ) year after the news announced over the past few days.

The big biotech presented results from an analysis that showed encouraging news for blockbuster drug Revlimid as a treatment for multiple myeloma. A combination of Revlimid and low-dose dexamethasone significantly improved overall survival and progression-free survival rates, leading some experts to conclude that the treatment will probably now become the new standard of care for the disease.

Tremendous
It's been that kind of year for Celgene. Simply tremendous. The stock has more than doubled so far in 2013 -- and there's still a few weeks left, so it could move even higher.

Quarter after quarter over the past year, the company kept good news coming. Revlimid powered higher revenue and earnings throughout the year and should come in around $4.3 billion for all of 2013.

And Celgene's quiver includes other arrows as well.

Abraxane, in particular, gained nice traction over the past 11 months. Revenue for the cancer drug jumped 60% year-over-year in the third quarter to $170 million. The drug also picked up another approved indication in September as a treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Celgene also experienced considerable success from its pipeline. Pomalyst gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in treating multiple myeloma in February. Although entering the market later than Kyprolis, which Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN  ) snagged with its acquisition of Onyx earlier this year, Pomalyst has continued to outpower its rival in sales. There seems to be ample room in the market for both drugs, though.

One mild disappointment over the past year stemmed from phase 3 results for psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis drug apremilast. Those results were good, but they weren't as strong as results from earlier clinical studies. However, Celgene still thinks that apremilast will carve out a new space between generic methotrexate and biologics, led by AbbVie's (NYSE: ABBV  ) blockbuster drug Humira.

The company has a couple of things going in its favor. Humira and other leading biologics must be injected, whereas apremilast is taken orally. More importantly, Celgene expects to price apremilast well below those biologics -- possibly making it an attractive alternative for patients who are either unresponsive to methotrexate or experience side effects from the cheaper drug.

Celgene hasn't been shy about striking deals in 2013 to expand its pipeline. It announced a $92 million payout to MorphoSys in June to get a new monoclonal antibody targeting treatment of multiple myeloma. More recently, Celgene picked up a 50% stake in OncoMed Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OMED  ) . That deal, valued at $177.25 million upfront, gives the big biotech option rights to as many as six anti-cancer stem cell treatments.

But the biggest investment of all for Celgene this year has been in itself. The company announced plans in February to repurchase $600 million of its stock. That came on top of $385 billion in share buybacks in the couple of months prior to the announcement -- and more than $5 billion in repurchases during the last four years.  

"Tremendous-est?"
While many investors would love for 2014 to be an even bigger year for Celgene than this year has been, that's not something I'd count on. It's not that the company won't be successful. I think it will.

However, it's hard to outdo a year where the value of the stock went up more than 100%. That being said, my view is that the latest news for Revlimid could help push shares higher. Next year could easily see yet another period of double-digit gains for Celgene. 2014 might not be the most tremendous year ever for Celgene, but it should nonetheless be a very good one.

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