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Genzyme Gets It Together

While all the large-cap drugmaker hype has centered around various acquisitionrumors this year, Genzyme (Nasdaq: GENZ  ) has quietly continued to work its financial magic, all while forcing through a contentious acquisition.

In its third-quarter financial results, announced last week, revenue rose 19% year over year, while non-GAAP net income grew 23%, thanks to increasing leverage from control of its research and development spending. Earnings per share were $0.79 for the quarter, excluding charges, but including the effects of stock options.

Although it fell outside the third-quarter time frame, Bioenvision shareholders finally approved Genzyme's $345 million acquisition offer last week. The acceptance followed a nearly failed proxy vote, after some votes in favor of the acquisition weren't counted on time. With Bioenvision now within its grasp, Genzyme can exercise full control over leukemia drug Clolar, as it tries to expand the drug's label into new indications.

On the R&D front, Genzyme reported positive phase 2 data in multiple sclerosis patients for a formulation of already-marketed leukemia drug Campath. Genzyme and partner Bayer now have the anti-MS version of Campath in two phase 3 studies; if successful, that could put approval somewhere in the 2011 time frame. It's still too early to tell how the drug will fare competitively, though. The strong efficacy data seen thus far has been tempered somewhat with a few moderate safety issues.

Winning the award for earliest 2008 earnings guidance, Genzyme last week guided for non-GAAP earnings per share of approximately $4 next year. This sounds like a nice boost to expected 2007 earnings guidance of around $3.35 to $3.40 a share, but the quality of the earnings included in this forecast is relatively weak, since it excludes option expenses. Genzyme will also have a lot of leeway to use share buybacks to reach this target.

Nonetheless, its target of 20% non-GAAP compounded EPS growth through 2011, and non-GAAP earnings of $7 a share by 2011, is relatively impressive. It'll have to be accompanied by sustainable top-line gains and positive clinical results for Campath.

Genzyme may not engender as much investor excitement as Carl-Icahn-acquisition-hyped biopharmas like Biogen IDEC (Nasdaq: BIIB  ) , or MedImmune, prior to its acquisition by AstraZeneca (Nasdaq: AZN  ) . But its diverse pipeline, and the strong performance it delivers quarter after quarter, deserve some investor attention.

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