The Dow Jones Industrial Index is crossing over the 20,000 mark, and while that's only a number, it may have you wondering if there are any stocks that you can still buy. No one knows where the stock market will go in the short term, but long-term investors might want to buy Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ:CELG), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN), and Biogen, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIIB). Despite the Dow's record levels, share prices for all three of these companies remain below their 52-week highs, and each has upcoming catalysts that could reward investors, regardless of where the Dow's heading next.
Big trial news approaching
Celgene is unquestionably one of the most successful biotech companies on the planet. The company markets four separate drugs that are selling at a billion-dollar blockbuster pace, including Revlimid, the most widely used first- and second-line multiple myeloma therapy, with expected sales of more than $8 billion this year.
The company also markets the third-line multiple myeloma drug Pomalyst, the pancreatic cancer drug Abraxane, and the psoriasis drug Otezla. Rapid growth for all four of its drugs has the company predicting that its sales will grow from about $11 billion in 2016, to at least $21 billion in 2020.
Importantly, Celgene has pipeline news coming soon that could allow it to over-deliver on that forecast. In 2015, the company spent over $7 billion acquiring the multiple sclerosis drug ozanimod, and data from its registrational study should be available early this year. If the data is positive, and the FDA eventually approves it, ozanimod could be competing in a market worth $20 billion -- and growing -- as soon as next year.
Given that Celgene's highly profitable, with preliminary EPS of $5.94 in 2016, and it's got a top-tier balance sheet, fast-growing products, and the potential to enter a new multibillion-dollar indication soon, it's one of my favorite top stocks to buy in healthcare right now. Especially, since investors can get shares at an 18% discount to their 2015 peak.
FDA approvals on deck
2016 was a tough year for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' investors. The company's share price dropped significantly because of a lackluster launch of Praluent, its cholesterol-busting drug, and an FDA rejection of its rheumatoid arthritis drug, sarilumab, over manufacturing concerns.
The company's disappointments last year overshadowed ongoing growth for its multibillion-dollar vision-restoring drug, Eylea, but it could have set up shares to outperform in 2017.
Recently, Ophthotech reported that Fovista when used alongside Lucentis, another common wet-AMD drug, fell short in late-stage studies. If the trial had panned out, it could have dented Eylea's sales, which are clocking in over $5 billion annually.
With Eylea on solid footing now, the company's shares could trade up if regulators reverse course and approve sarilumab. Earlier this month, the company said that its addressed their manufacturing questions, and a decision could come in a span of a couple months following a reinspection of its facility and resubmission of its application for approval.
Similarly, shares could trade up if the FDA decides to approve Regeneron's eczema therapy, dupilumab, in March.
A resolution of its patent dispute with Amgen on Praluent could offer unexpected support, too. So far, courts have sided with Amgen that Praluent violates its patents, and if appeals fail to change that view, then Praluent could be permanently removed from the market. However, there's an outside chance that Regeneron can negotiate a deal that keeps Praluent on shelves, and if so, then data expected later this year from a cardiovascular outcomes study could provide an unexpected boost.
Finally, if those aren't enough reasons to consider this company's stock, Regeneron also expects to report data from a phase 3 study in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, later this year. If successful, REGN2222, could become the go-to in treating RSV, a common virus in infants.
Launching a new drug
Biogen's best known as the world's market share leading manufacturer of multiple sclerosis medicine, but recently, the company and co-developer Ionis won FDA approval of Spinraza, a compelling new drug for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a rare disease.
There are only about 13,000 new cases of SMA diagnosed worldwide every year, and about 20,000 SMA patients living in Europe and the United States. After demonstrating efficacy in trials, the FDA OK'd Spinraza in less than three months, an incredibly fast timeline that indicates how desperate the need is for new SMA therapies.
Biogen has priced Spinraza at $750,000 per year, and that's raising some eyebrows, but I think the company will successfully negotiate discounts with insurers that will allow this drug to ramp up into a nine-figure, or higher, top-selling drug.
Admittedly, the potential threat to market share posed by Celgene makes Biogen a bit riskier than these other two stocks, but Biogen's working on additional multiple sclerosis therapies that could help protect some of its market share longer-term, and it's investing heavily on R&D for neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, that could produce results in the coming years, too.
Furthermore, Biogen's shares are also intriguing because of its valuation. Shares are trading at just 13 times forward earnings estimates, making it the cheapest of these three stocks on this measure.