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This Stock Gets a Gold Medal for Being the Best International Biotech Stock

By Motley Fool Staff - Feb 17, 2018 at 10:50AM

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If there were a healthcare Olympics, this company deserves a gold medal for its performance.

Given its enviable record of top- and bottom-line growth has fueled over 30 years of dividend increases, Roche Holdings (RHHBY 0.72%) is among the top of its class when it comes to global biopharmaceutical companies.

In this clip from The Motley Fool's Industry Focus: Healthcare, analyst Kristine Harjes and contributor Todd Campbell explain why they think Roche Holdings deserves a gold medal for its performance.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Feb. 14, 2018.

Kristine Harjes: Given that one of the central draws of the Olympics is its international flavor, I wanted to end on one final competition for best non-U.S. healthcare stock. For this one, I am giving the gold to Roche, the Swiss drug maker. Roche is already very dominant, and it can boast that it has two of the five best-selling drugs from 2017. These were Rituxan, which brought in nearly $8 billion in 2017, and Herceptin, which generated over $7.5 billion. Rituxan treats both certain cancers and autoimmune diseases, which, it's pretty unique that it does both, and it makes up about 18% of overall sales for Roche. Herceptin, meanwhile, treats breast and gastric cancer and makes up about 17% of sales. And it's important to note that both of these drugs are facing biosimilar competition. But that doesn't worry me, much.

Roche also has a cancer drug called Avastin, which had 2017 sales of more than $7 billion, and it still has patent protection. I'm also particularly excited to watch their anti-PD-L1 drug, Tecentriq, which just hit the market in May of 2016. Their growth trajectory for this drug is pretty incredible. 2017 sales of about $500 million, already tripled from 2016 levels, which is, of course, not a fair comparison because 2016 didn't get the whole year of sales. But, going forward, estimates are for a CAGR, compound annual growth rate, of 77% through the year 2022, bringing it up to annual sales of nearly $5 billion. Roche also has one of the largest R&D budgets of any big pharma, and that should continue to be the case for the next several years. I was on the pipeline page of their website earlier, scrolling through, and I literally got a finger cramp. That's how much they have going on.

Todd Campbell: You know, Kristine, just to tag onto that, I saw that they had 25 label expansions or new drug approval in the E.U. and U.S. last year. 25!

Harjes: Actually, by my count, they have 31 just for Tecentriq. And some of them have expected filing dates this year, which is just incredible. And that's where you see that CAGR of 77% being driven by. Overall, worldwide prescription sales are expected to reach nearly $50 billion by 2022, which is a 4% CAGR. That's pretty good for a company of this size. You made a similar point when you were talking about Pfizer, but once you have such a large base, it's hard to grow much. So, that 4% actually puts them pretty close to the top of its class. It also has a dividend yield of 3.8%, which I think is just the icing on the cake to seal the deal that this is my gold medal finalist for international.

Campbell: And one of the things that's interesting, just to tag onto that, 5% growth since 2012, consistently. It's like, every year, 5% growth. So, maybe this isn't a company that's going to grow by leaps and bounds, but man, the consistency is fantastic!

Harjes: Yeah. I'm really impressed by what they're doing with their pipeline. Go check it out if you want to be as wowed as I was, but go easy on the scrolling finger.

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