What: Shares of Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG), a biotech blue-chip company primarily focused on oncology, immunology, and inflammatory drug research, surged 14% in July , according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Celgene's strong month can be traced to three key catalysts.
So what: Without a doubt, the biggest catalyst for Celgene in July was its better-than-expected second-quarter earnings results. For the quarter, Celgene reported $2.75 billion in sales, a 21% year-over-year improvement, and adjusted EPS of $1.44, up from $1.23 in Q2 2015. Both figures beat the $2.71 billion in sales and $1.39 in adjusted EPS that Wall Street analysts had been looking for. Celgene also raised its full-year sales and EPS guidance to $11 billion and $5.70-$5.75, respectively.
While the usual culprits delivered, such as Revlimid with 18% sales growth to $1.7 billion and fast-growing anti-inflammatory drug Otezla with 170% year-over-year growth, it was the return to organic domestic growth for Abraxane, a roughly $1 billion per year cancer drug, that seemed to matter most. Abraxane may have combination opportunities with cancer immunotherapies in its future that could once again reignite its sales growth.
Secondly, Revlimid provided a spark in overseas markets with the multiple myeloma blockbuster drug being approved by the European Commission for the treatment of relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma. Celgene's lead drug has around a half-dozen indications it may still expand to, which is why Revlimid continues to grow at a consistent double-digit pace.
Finally, Celgene announced yet another collaboration to go with its more than 30 ongoing partnerships. On July 19, the company announced that it and Jounce Therapeutics had forged a global collaboration to develop and commercialize immunotherapy treatments. The collaboration includes Jounce's lead experimental candidate, JTX-2011, and up to four early stage programs. For its troubles, Jounce received $225 million in upfront cash, a $36 million equity investment from Celgene, and could receive up to $2.3 billion in milestone payments in a perfect world.
Now what: I guess you could say it was business as usual for Celgene, which has been a strong performer for years.
The key for Celgene is, and always has been, its multiple channels of growth. Celgene has had little issue growing organically, with Revlimid, Otezla, and multiple myeloma drug Pomalyst growing by a healthy double-, or even triple-digit percentage (in Otezla's case). However, it has the ability to pull the trigger on acquisitions to diversify its pipeline, and it has, as noted above, partnered with 30+ companies. Doing so ensures that Celgene spends its cash on only the most promising compounds in development.
Looking ahead, Celgene still appears to be pretty inexpensive. Its current PEG ratio is below 1, and its top-line growth shows little signs of slowing with plenty of label expansion opportunities for Revlimid and Otezla, as well as the expectation that ozanimod, an experimental drug acquired when Celgene purchased Receptos for $7.2 billion in 2015, could become a blockbuster drug itself. Even taking into account its post-earnings rally, investors should give serious consideration to adding Celgene to their portfolio.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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