If you're looking for cheap biotech stocks to buy going into the new year, you're in luck. Shares of Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), Incyte (NASDAQ:INCY), and Ionis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IONS) are far less expensive than they appear on the surface.
These biotechs sport traditional valuation metrics, such as PE ratios, that most stock screeners pass up. A peek under the hood, though, reveals some serious growth engines ready to create real wealth for your portfolio.
With its shares trading at about 43.9 times trailing earnings, you might think I shoved this biotech stock in the wrong slot. It's not a typo. Wall Street expects this oncology leader's bottom line to grow at an annual rate of 22.6% over the next five years, which is a couple of percentage points slower than investors have enjoyed over the past five years.
Celgene's single largest growth driver is its well established multiple myeloma therapy, Revlimid. The company has deftly expanded its approved use beyond its main indication, and sales growth has been impressive. Third-quarter Revlimid sales rose 30% over the previous-year period to an annualized run rate of $7.56 billion, and management upped next year's forecast to more than $8 billion. Sales of Revlimid's follow-up drug, Pomalyst, are also catching on, with year-over-year sales growth of 33% in the third quarter to a $1.36 billion run rate.
Perhaps the most encouraging product in Celgene's line-up is its first foray into the anti-inflammatory space, Otezla. Launched in 2014, the psoriasis pills have quickly eaten into entrenched injectables' share of the vast psoriasis population, with third-quarter sales that nearly doubled over the previous-year period to a $1.10 billion run rate.
Soaring sales of its commercial-stage products alone make this biotech seem like a bargain, but there's more to like further ahead. Its clinical-stage pipeline is second to none. With acquired assets such as multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis hopeful ozanimod, and collaboration agreements with more than 30 partners, Celgene is poised to continue putting up double-digit growth for many years to come.
Shares of this busy biotech trade at a vertigo-inducing 129 times trailing earnings, but the stock is far cheaper than it looks. The company is still turning the corner on the road to sustainably positive cash flows, and Jakafi could help it accelerate out of the curve.
Since its first FDA approval in 2011, Jakafi has ran largely unopposed in the myelofibrosis space, and Gilead Sciences' recent failure with a possible competitor should help it maintain the status quo. Management recently estimated its penetration of this population at around half, and its uptake among the polycythemia vera patients is just getting started. Third-quarter revenue from the janus kinase inhibitor grew 38.8% to an $895 million annual run rate. With plenty of room to expand, sales of the drug could double in the years ahead and take the company's modest bottom line much higher.
While Jakafi's growth story plays out, this biotech's clinical-stage pipeline could catch fire. Partnered with Eli Lilly, baricitinib is awaiting a decision from regulators for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The oral therapy bested the world's best-selling drug, Humira, in a head-to-head trial. If it earns its widely-expected approvals, it could feasibly generate more than $2 billion each year for the partners. Royalties in the 20% to 29% range would be a huge boost to Incyte's bottom line.
Perhaps even more interesting than baricitinib, though, is a late-stage combination trial with Keytruda from Merck & Co. and experimental epacadostat from Incyte. If results fall in line with observations from a previous smaller study, the IDO1 inhibitor could become part of a combination therapy for newly diagnosed patients with advanced melanoma. With Jakafi surging, and a clinical-stage pipeline full of potential, this stock looks extremely cheap right now.
3. Ionis Pharmaceuticals
Spotty milestone payments have helped this biotech post quarterly profits here and there, but an influx of royalties could keep it consistently in the black going forward. One of several candidates Ionis developed in partnership with Biogen, Spinraza, is the first drug to significantly improve motor function of patients with the most common genetic cause of infant mortality in America, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
A widely expected approval for treatment of the most severe form of SMA could allow Spinraza to begin contributing to the partner's top lines soon. A bit further ahead, an observed benefit in the wider SMA population could push peak annual sales of the drug to around $2.5 billion.
If successful, a Spinraza royalty percentage in the mid-teens could give Ionis Pharmaceuticals plenty of cash to develop about 30 candidates it has in clinical-stage development. One approaching the finish line is lipid-lowering hopeful volanesorsen. If late-stage trials that are currently under way throw off data in line with previous observations from smaller studies, they could support the company's first applications for an entity it owns outright.
Despite having a stellar year, Ionis shares have fallen about 25.6% in 2016. With a market cap around $5.58 billion, and a bulging pipeline that could start spewing out profits, this biotech stock looks incredibly cheap.
The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Biogen, Celgene, Gilead Sciences, and Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.