Better Stock Today Challenge: Gilead vs. Isis Pharmaceuticals

In the spirit of World Cup competition, we're holding our own tournament in search of the Better Stock Today. We're pitting 32 companies against each other, and you, the reader, will determine the winner. Today it's the Final!

Motley Fool health care analyst David Williamson picked some strong companies to represent in this tournament, and as a result, he's battling himself in today's match of Gilead Sciences  (NASDAQ: GILD  ) vs. Isis Pharmaceuticals  (NASDAQ: ISIS  )  in our search for the better stock.

Bracket showing companies that advanced from the group stages

David Williamson makes the case for Gilead to win the final. He believes Gilead's Sovaldi will continue to beat analyst estimates and that its runaway success will continue. Estimated to do $1.4 billion in first quarter sales, the instant blockbuster clocked in at $2.3 billion. Gilead already has an even better combo treatment in the works and despite its high price tag, Gilead's future rivals don't appear willing to undercut its cost. With an estimated 150 million hepatitis-c cases worldwide, curing the disease will prove beneficial to humanity and Gilead shareholders.

David Williamson, on the other hand, thinks Isis is a strong contender because of one big reason -- its amazing drug pipeline. Wall Street heralds it as the best in biotech and puts Isis in play as a takeover target. A virtual who's who of big pharma has struck partnership deals. Isis already has orphan drug Kynamro on the market, and has seen recent success from a mid-stage study for an anti-clotting drug. A recent sell-off has given investors a chance to get this deep pipeline at a discounted price.

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Who will win David or David ... only you can decide. Vote here to determine the winner of the final and sound off in the comments box below. Check back to to see who's the winner of the tournament.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (8)

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  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2014, at 5:10 PM, tecno1 wrote:

    Gilead is a great biotech and will do very well but its market cap (126 B) is quite high and I don´t see multibagger potential over the next few years. ISIS (4 B) by contrast with its huge promising late-stage pipeline is poised to enter Big-Biotech territory few years from now with clear multibagger potential.

  • Report this Comment On June 26, 2014, at 9:44 PM, tbash789 wrote:

    I would have to agree with Techno1 here. Again, ISIS has six possible near to intermediate term blockbusters. I follow biotech very closely and I don't see any one biotech that has that many drugs completing Phase II, and now starting in Phase III with this much potential based on their time horizon and need by patients. Also, as an aside, and I know that GILD is a very excellent company, but if you check out the most recent implied volatility for GILD, and increased July 82 puts just noted today that will put some pressure in the short term on GILD as it is quite significant.

    I look at this competition as for the remainder of the year, and next few years as it is supposed to mimic the World Cup. From that standpoint I don't believe ISIS will be beat. Now ISIS has a temporary downdraft itself as a blogger from SA put a really negative article about them. The blogger I believe is misinformed and under educated in ISIS. His analogies are not sensible and he has made many mistakes in his report.

    You want to remember that just last week the NEJM did a report on the people lacking the ApoCIII gene and how much better they did for lowered CV risk than the average person. ISIS ApoCIII inhibitor does exactly that. It also will reduce your CV risk in a unique way as ApoCIII itself is an independent risk factor for CV disease. It also will improve insulin resistance which is becoming to be known that insulin resistance is a real culprit in increasing your risk of developing DM Type 2 and CV risk. Moreover, if you are a diabetic it lowers your HgbA1c in their studies(four phase II studies now) by 1.2%, making it in its own way a treatment for diabetes. The big kicker will be if it can make your own HDL more functional. We already know that it will raise your HDL by 55% besides lowering your trigylcerides by 65%, and ApoC itself by over 70% on average. If this is the case this drug could rival any drug in history as it would probably work in chronic kidney disease patients in lowering their CV risk. Most recent studies show that statins don't do much, or maybe even be harmful. And yet CKD patients have a 16 fold risk for mortality per year compared to the general population, and a 34 fold risk of hospitalization secondary to CV disease, and complications from that.

    The other huge, maybe game changing drug is ISIS Glucagon receptor inhibitor. In a 13 WEEK study it lowered a person's HgbA1c on average >2.5% for the 200mg dose, and >1.5% with the 100mg dose. When I ask the head of the ISIS division if he thought that with that short of time that the drug could further lower HbgA1c and he noted most definitely. This drug could for the most part leap-frog all of the GLP-1 agonists. Due to its increased efficacy and improved tolerability compared to them. But even if the ISIS drug doesn't supplant them and it was only used on people who have failed on a GLP-1 agent it could still be a blockbuster. But the one thing to note is that there was no nausea or vomiting with the ISIS drug vs. the high rate you see with GLP-1 agonists.....greater than about 20% with the GLP-1 agonist.

    I could go on and on, suffice it to say that I don't believe that GILD will be able to beat ISIS straight up on return over the aforementioned time frame based on comparisons of the pipelines for growth and that is without the help of the rule of large numbers going against GILD. An excellent company though. t

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 2:21 PM, km00nster wrote:

    Very useful information TBASH!! LONG ISIS!!

  • Report this Comment On July 02, 2014, at 6:01 PM, DrGoldin wrote:

    Short term: Gilead, no question

    Medium term: probably still Gilead

    Long term: uncertain, Isis is higher risk/higher reward

    It's a bit like comparing a 30-year-old all-star to a 20-year-old mega-prospect.

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David Williamson

The Motley Fool's Healthcare Analyst, I specialize in Pharma, Biotech, and how the ACA (Obamacare) is changing the business of healthcare in America. Follow me on Twitter for breaking stock news, policy thoughts, and misc musings...

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9/1/2015 3:59 PM
GILD $101.49 Down -3.58 +0.00%
Gilead Sciences CAPS Rating: *****
ISIS $48.75 Down -1.43 +0.00%
Isis Pharmaceutica… CAPS Rating: *****