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What Are Pfizer's Prospects in 2021 and Beyond?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD - Feb 10, 2021 at 5:10AM

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Hint: Better than the company's recent Q4 results might make you think.

Pfizer (PFE 3.00%) missed Wall Street's earnings estimate when the big drugmaker reported its fourth-quarter results recently. However, those results didn't account for the tremendous growth that the company is about to enjoy thanks to its COVID-19 vaccine. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Feb. 3, 2021, contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss what Pfizer's prospects are in 2021 and beyond.

Keith Speights: One of our viewers has a question about Pfizer. They mentioned the earnings miss and they're asking, "Anything wrong with Pfizer? It didn't move it all sitting in heavy loss. Appreciate your thoughts."

Pfizer did report their earnings yesterday morning. They are another leader in the COVID-19 vaccine market. They announced their Q4 results revenue jumped 11 percent year-over-year. Adjusted earnings jumped 14 percent, but the adjusted earnings weren't quite what Wall Street was looking for. I think the big news was their guidance for 2021. They projected revenue between $59.4 and $61.4 billion, which is a substantial increase, and they're looking for their COVID vaccine sales to, they said total around $15 billion, although there's a little asterisk with that we can talk about.

What do you think all this means for the prospects for Pfizer stock going forward?

Brian Orelli: Yeah. I think that $15 billion was only on committed sales, so they had or have committed sales of 800-900 million doses, but Pfizer expects to make two billion doses this year. If you can think of almost 30 billion potentially, we could add another 15 billion to that revenue guidance. So that's a pretty substantial increase.

But it just depends on whether it's a one-shot deal or is it multiple, or are they going to be able to repeat those sales year-after-year. It's going to be like a Gilead Sciences hepatitis C drug where they had a whole bunch of people waiting for the drug, and so, when it first launched, it was a high price, no competition, and there were a lot of people warehoused waiting for the drug, and so, the sales went through the roof and then as it got competition, prices go down and they were less patients and can cure less patients, so sales of Gilead's Hepatitis C drugs fell off.

Which one of those it ends up being, I think it's still a question mark on Pfizer, and that's probably the reason why its share price hasn't responded to the high 2021 sales.

Keith Speights: We should also note that Pfizer, although they record all the revenue for the vaccine, the COVID vaccine, they do split the gross margin with their partner, German biotech BioNTech, 50-50. So their revenue could be boosted a lot more than their bottom line will be boosted from this vaccine.

Our viewer asked the question, what do we think about the stock. I think it depends on what kind of investing style you have. If you're an aggressive investor, Pfizer's is probably not going to deliver the kind of growth you're looking for. If you're an income investor, Pfizer has a great dividend and that's a steady company. Now that they've spun off their up join unit and merged it with Mylan, their growth is going to improve. They do have a big pipeline, robust pipeline, and so I think they'll be able to probably deliver solid if not spectacular growth and they have a great dividend. That's a good combination for many kinds of investors anyway.

Brian Orelli: They also have a consumer healthcare division that is merged with GlaxoSmithKline, but it's still under GlaxoSmithKline. So it's like a joint venture in their part, they're a minority-owner in that joint venture. So they get a profits from that. But I think that's eventually going to get spun off and IPO-ed. So presumably, they'll get some cash out of that deal which would help invest, they could invest that in high-growth drugs. I think it's looking better. I think the prospects for Pfizer's growth is looking better than they have been since the Wyeth acquisition.

Keith Speights: Yeah, I would definitely agree. I believe they were even looking at risk-adjusted revenue growth of around six percent over the next several years and risk-adjusted earnings-per-share growth of around 10 percent, which is much, much better than what Pfizer has generated in recent years.

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Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$51.59 (3.00%) $1.50
Gilead Sciences, Inc. Stock Quote
Gilead Sciences, Inc.
$63.08 (0.80%) $0.50
GSK Stock Quote
$43.69 (2.20%) $0.94
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
$134.04 (1.32%) $1.75

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