The stock market has been unpredictable and volatile all year long. All three major U.S. market indexes are in the red, and with economic problems still at the forefront of everyone's minds, no one knows when things will get better.
Amid these issues, some stocks have performed surprisingly well and are likely to continue this trend for the rest of the year. That's the case for AstraZeneca (AZN 1.21%) and Incyte (INCY -1.21%). Let's see why these two biotechs can continue on their march forward.
Over the past year, U.K.-based AstraZeneca has become an even more attractive investment thanks to new approvals and a key acquisition. In the former category, AstraZeneca's severe asthma treatment, Tezspire, earned a thumbs-up from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December. AstraZeneca developed this product in collaboration with Amgen. The two drugmakers will equally share the profits and costs associated with Tezspire after a royalty payment from AstraZeneca to Amgen.
The medicine boasts blockbuster potential since it meets the needs of many asthma patients for whom current therapy options are inadequate. Turning to the acquisition front, last summer AstraZeneca closed its takeover of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech focused on rare diseases. The cash-and-stock acquisition was valued at $39 billion.
Thanks to this transaction, AstraZeneca inherited Alexion's portfolio of rare disease medicines, including Soliris and Ultomiris, which are approved to treat paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and hemolytic uremic syndrome (two rare blood-related disorders). AstraZeneca's acquisition strengthened its pipeline, too.
The company's pipeline currently boasts 183 programs, including 16 brand-new products in late-stage studies. Label expansions and approvals of novel therapies should be no problem for this biotech giant. AstraZeneca's lineup also features several cancer drugs that continue to perform well. In the first quarter, the drugmaker's total oncology revenue jumped by 21% year over year to $3.6 billion, thanks to products like Tagrisso, Imfinzi, and Lynparza.
Other key medicines for the biotech include diabetes drug Farxiga and severe asthma treatment Fasenra. AstraZeneca's lineup will likely continue pushing the company's sales in the right direction, and it can handle future patent cliffs thanks to its rich pipeline. That partly explains why AstraZeneca has outperformed the market this year and why it can keep dominating.
Incyte has been racking up critical new approvals and label expansions for the past couple of years. In 2020, the company earned the green light in the U.S. for two brand-new cancer drugs, Pemazyre and Monjuvi. In September 2021, Incyte earned FDA approval for Opzelura as a treatment for atopic dermatitis.
Opzelura is the topical formulation of Incyte's crown jewel, cancer medicine Jakafi. Opzelura recently earned a new indication as a treatment for repigmentation in vitiligo patients, the first and only FDA-approved medicine in this indication. Last but not least, in April, Incyte's Olumiant became the first and only systemic treatment for alopecia areata approved by the regulatory agency. Incyte shares the rights to Olumiant with Eli Lilly. These regulatory wins will help Incyte grow its revenue and earnings in the coming years.
Importantly, Incyte is preparing to lose patent protection for Jakafi in 2027. Jakafi still generates the bulk of the company's top line. In the first quarter, Incyte's total revenue came in at $733.2 million, representing a 21% year over year increase, and Jakafi's product sales and royalty revenue collected by Incyte accounted for about 84.5% of that.
With a lineup of brand-new drugs, Incyte should stop relying too much on Jakafi by the time its sales drop due to patent cliffs. Incyte does have a little over two dozen ongoing programs in its pipeline. Investors can expect even more approvals and label expansions in the coming years. While the company's stock performance did suffer before this year, partly due to its heavy reliance on one product, management is showing that it is thinking ahead and planning for a profitable life after Jakafi.
That's good news for Incyte's shareholders and those considering initiating a position in this attractive biotech stock.