Big pharma stocks have been clobbered during the coronavirus-caused stock market crash. You can count the number of drugmakers with market caps of $25 billion or more whose shares haven't dropped by double-digit percentages on one hand -- and have several fingers left over.
AbbVie's shares have tanked by more than 30%. It isn't too surprising that the stock has taken the worst drubbing among big drugmakers considering the headwinds that AbbVie faces with biosimilar competition for its top-selling drug Humira in Europe already and will do so in the U.S. starting in 2023. Some investors also haven't been fans of AbbVie's pending acquisition of Allergan.
But is AbbVie really worth 30% less because of the coronavirus pandemic? I don't think so. It's likely that AbbVie's sales will be negatively impacted somewhat in the first and second quarters of 2020 for its drugs that aren't must-haves for patients. However, this will only be a temporary problem.
I actually like the prospects for AbbVie to deliver market-beating total returns over the long run. The company's dividend yield of nearly 7% makes that feat much easier to pull off. I'm not worried about the sustainability of the dividend, either. AbbVie is a Dividend Aristocrat with a track record of 47 consecutive years of dividend increases. The dividend program is a top priority for the company.
In addition, my view is that AbbVie is in a good position to handle the threats to Humira. New immunology drugs Rinvoq and Skyrizi should help significantly. AbbVie's cancer drugs Imbruvica and Venclexta will continue to gain momentum. I also think that the Allergan buyout will be a net positive by reducing AbbVie's dependence on Humira.
Pfizer hasn't fared much better than AbbVie, with the pharma stock sinking around 27% from its highs earlier this year. And while the overall stock market soared in 2019, Pfizer performed dismally.
Probably the main reason why Pfizer has been and still is such a laggard is the huge decline in sales for blockbuster drug Lyrica after it lost exclusivity last year. However, Lyrica won't be a problem for Pfizer much longer. The company plans to spin off its Upjohn business and merge it with Mylan. Bye-bye Lyrica, and hello higher growth.
The "new" Pfizer will have several drugs that should drive sales and earnings growth over the next few years. Put cancer drugs Ibrance, Inlyta, and Xtandi high on that list. Blood thinner Eliquis (which Pfizer co-markets with Bristol Myers Squibb) and anti-inflammatory drug Xeljanz deserve top spots, too. The company also has a rising star with rare-disease drug Vyndaquel and a promising pipeline to boot.
Probably the main downside to Pfizer's Upjohn-Mylan deal is that its dividend will fall somewhat. However, Pfizer shareholders will receive shares of the new company, to be named Viatris. The combination of dividends from Pfizer and Viatris should keep income-oriented investors happy. Growth investors might opt to sell their Viatris shares when the transaction is completed later this year. Either way, Pfizer looks like dirt cheap pharma stock to buy right now, in my opinion.
3. Bristol Myers Squibb
Bristol Myers Squibb is running neck-and-neck with Pfizer in the race downward. But I think that this drug stock is one of the very best ones to buy while prices are super-low.
First of all, BMS boasts a solid product lineup. Market researcher EvaluatePharma projects that Eliquis and cancer immunotherapy Opdivo will rank among the world's top five biggest-selling drugs by 2024. BMS also has high-flying multiple myeloma drug Empliciti and arthritis drug Orencia. The acquisition of Celgene last year brought blockbuster drugs Revlimid, Pomalyst, and Abraxane into the fold.
Even better, the Celgene buyout gives Bristol Myers Squibb one of the best pipelines in the industry. Unless there are unexpected snags, the company should launch several drugs with blockbuster potential over the next couple of years, including multiple sclerosis drug ozanimod and blood cancer cell therapies ide-cel and liso-cel.
To add icing to the cake, BMS offers a tasty dividend. Its dividend currently yields close to 3.7%. With this dividend combined with expected annual earnings growth of more than 18% over the next five years, my view is that Bristol Myers Squibb is hands-down one of the best pharma stocks to buy at a discount.