Pfizer's (PFE -0.72%) revenue and earnings are skyrocketing, thanks in large part to the success of its COVID-19 vaccine. However, the big pharma stock hasn't delivered inspiring gains. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on June 2, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli answer a viewer's question asking if Pfizer stock is undervalued right now.
Keith Speights: One at the top that's got the most upvotes is from Richard. He asked, "Do you think Pfizer is currently undervalued? I assume COVID vaccine will continue to add to revenues for at least five years. How does the rest of their pipeline look, great company and dividend grower looking to build a significant position this year? Many thanks."
Brian, do you think Pfizer is currently undervalued?
Brian Orelli: Honestly, I haven't looked at the current valuation, so I can't really speak to that off top of my head. I think in the longer term, I like Pfizer more than I did maybe so let's say five years ago, I think spinning off the Upjohn unit made a heck of a lot of sense. Then they also have their consumer healthcare, on that they've spun off with GlaxoSmithKline, and so they have that. That's still on the books, but eventually that's going to get made into its own entity. Then they'll get off the books and they'll get shares in that company or it'll IPO and they'll sell their shares in that company through the IPO process.
I like Pfizer better than I did, let's say a few years ago when it was a lot slower growing. There's both of those divisions produced revenue and profits, but the revenue wasn't growing nearly as much as its high-growth drugs or products.
Speights: Yeah. For Richard, I just pulled up the stats for Pfizer. Pfizer is currently trading at 23 times trailing earnings, but less than 12 times forward earnings, and that's a pretty attractive valuation metric there.
I think there are two things that may be holding Pfizer's valuation down somewhat. One is, there's still some uncertainty about whether or not the COVID vaccines will be needed on an annual basis. I personally think they will be, but there's still some uncertainty there, so there's questions about how much of the COVID-19 vaccine revenue Pfizer can continue to count on year after year.
The other thing is Pfizer is facing another patent cliff of sorts in the next few years. I wrote an article not too long ago about why some on Wall Street are worried about Pfizer, despite all of its successes in the COVID-19 arena.
There are several U.S. basic patents expiring over the next several years. In 2025, for example, Xeljanz, which is an autoimmune disease drug, the U.S. basic patent expires. In 2026 the patent expires for Prevnar 13, which is a huge winner for Pfizer -- a pneumococcal vaccine. The basic patent for Eliquis, which is a blood thinner, expires in 2026 as well. It's 2027 for Ibrance, which is a breast cancer drug, and then there's some others throughout the rest of the decade. There are some concerns about a patent cliff of sorts coming up.
Now, Pfizer does have pipeline candidates. They have a newer pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that could replace Prevnar for example, and they have other drugs that can step up to the plate to help offset any declines.
The other thing is just because a patent expires in a year doesn't mean sales initially decline because we've seen companies be pretty creative at extending the life of their drugs even after the initial patent expires.
I think Pfizer is undervalued considering all of its prospects. But there are some reasons why it's not trading at quite as high of a multiple right now.
Orelli: I think the big unknown is the COVID vaccine, and how long is that going to last. That'll determine at least some of the revenue growth trajectory of Pfizer over the next couple of years.