Genentech Fitting Better

Genentech (NYSE: DNA  ) released its third-quarter financial results yesterday. Like an overweight businessman losing pounds and fitting into his suit better, Genentech's previous lofty P/E valuation continues to come down as it boosts its bottom line every quarter, yet has a slightly lower share price for the year.  

Genentech continued its streak of double-digit growth in its top and bottom lines in the quarter, with a year-over-year 22% gain in revenue and 22% gain in net income after excluding one-time charges. Importantly, Genentech is managing to keep its non-R&D expenditures in check as its bottom line grew at the same speed as its top line, even though research and development spending was up 38% in the quarter.

Its top drug, cancer treatment Avastin, is still experiencing torrid expansion, as sales of the drug were up 37% year over year, making up for the mediocre 6% growth in Herceptin as it comes under competitive attack from GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE: GSK  ) Tykerb.

Dozens of clinical trials have expanded Avastin's uses to include every major type of solid tumor there is. The drug has a PDUFA date of Feb. 23 for its label expansion into first-line metastatic breast cancer. Barring the introduction of small-molecule competitors from Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) or another big pharma, Avastin's growth rate won't be hampered any time soon.  

Except for the fact that it doesn't pay a dividend, Genentech is becoming the new Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) . It continues to post quarter after quarter of double-digit revenue and earnings growth. It peddles biologics, and since there is not yet a good regulatory pathway in the U.S. giving generic-drug makers a chance to produce biogenerics, discount competitors against its top drugs aren't likely to emerge any time soon.

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