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Why Celgene's Latest FDA Approval Makes Bristol-Myers Squibb's Dividend Look Even Better

By Keith Speights – Updated Nov 12, 2019 at 8:40AM

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Good news for Celgene is good news for Bristol-Myers Squibb -- and investors who like the big drugmaker's juicy dividend.

No matter how you look at it, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY -0.40%) claims an attractive dividend. Its yield currently stands north of 2.8%. The big pharma company has a payout ratio of only 47%, giving it plenty of flexibility to keep the solid dividends coming.

And Bristol-Myers Squibb's dividend now looks even better. Celgene (CELG) just announced a key regulatory approval that should boost BMS's fortunes.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Another blockbuster

On Friday, Celgene and partner Acceleron Pharma announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved Reblozyl (luspatercept) in treating anemia caused by rare blood disorder beta-thalassemia. Acceleron initially developed the drug, with Celgene licensing it in 2011.

Beta-thalassemia results in problems producing healthy red blood cells. This, in turn, often leads to severe anemia in patients. The treatment options for anemia associated with beta-thalassemia have been very limited in the past. Patients usually have to undergo red blood cell transfusions.

Because of the unmet medical need, Reblozyl should have tremendous market potential. Celgene thinks it will generate peak annual sales in the ballpark of $2 billion. That's in line with analysts' expectations as well.

A great dividend looking even better

So why does Celgene's good news make Bristol-Myers Squibb's dividend more attractive? BMS announced early in 2019 that it plans to acquire Celgene. Once the pending acquisition is finalized, BMS will add Reblozyl to its product lineup.

BMS is paying $50 in cash plus one BMS share for each Celgene share owned. That translates to around $83 billion at BMS' current share price. In addition, BMS will give Celgene shareholders a contingent value right (CVR) share worth $9 if Celgene's pipeline candidates ozanimod, liso-cel, and ide-cel (bb2121) win FDA approvals by specified dates.

Some investors thought that BMS was making a mistake buying Celgene when the deal was first announced. With BMS taking on additional debt to fund the acquisition, it's not surprising that some even worried that the drugmaker might not be able to prioritize the dividend program like it's done in the past.

But every regulatory approval that Celgene wins should allay those concerns about BMS's commitment to its dividend. These wins increase the likelihood that the Celgene buyout will pay for itself sooner rather than later.

Celgene already picked up another key FDA approval in August for Inrebic (fedratinib). It's awaiting FDA approval for ozanimod in treating multiple sclerosis. Celgene also appears to be on track to file for approval of liso-cel as a third-line treatment for relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma before the end of 2019 and for approval of ide-cel in treating multiple myeloma in the first half of 2020. Each of these drugs is expected to deliver blockbuster sales.

For investors who want more than just dividends, BMS' growth prospects should also be significantly improved with Celgene's pipeline victories. BMS already has a couple of solid growth drivers with Eliquis and Opdivo. But Celgene's current products and its pipeline hold the potential to shift BMS' growth trajectory into a higher gear.

Only formalities remaining

To be sure, Bristol-Myers Squibb's acquisition of Celgene isn't a done deal yet. However, only formalities remain at this point for the deal to be finalized. The one key hurdle that could have caused a snag was addressed with Amgen's agreement to buy immunology drug Otezla.

BMS and Celgene expect the transaction to close by the end of this year. Assuming all goes as planned, BMS will become an even bigger player among big pharmaceutical stocks. It will add several more blockbusters and likely blockbusters to its lineup and pipeline. And its dividend will look even more attractive than it does right now.

Keith Speights owns shares of Celgene. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Celgene. The Motley Fool recommends Amgen. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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