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Drug Deals Require Cash

By Brian Orelli, PhD - Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 8:04PM

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Pharmaceutical companies find out how nice it is not to have to take out loans.

It's nice to have cash. It allows you to buy things like unusually cheap stocks or companies of which you already own 56%. Unfortunately for Roche, not having cash seems to be making it hard to close its $45 billion deal for Genentech (NYSE:DNA). The availability of credit just isn't what it used to be.

Not everyone is having problems closing their deals, though. Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) didn't need much of a loan to close its $6.5 billion purchase of ImClone Systems. It had $6.1 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end last quarter, so it needed only a relatively small loan of $2 billion to $3 billion to get the job done.

Cash is king and it's allowing companies to swoop in and get some good deals.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) went on a bit of a spending spree over the last couple of weeks. On Monday it bought Mentor for a little over $1 billon and picked up much smaller Omrix Biopharmaceuticals last week. Even with those purchase, the company still has plenty of cash left.

Check out these players in the pharmaceutical field.


Cash and short-term investments (billions)

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)


Wyeth (NYSE:WYE)


Johnson & Johnson


GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK)


Novartis (NYSE:NVS)


Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. As of the quarter ending September 2008.

That's a lot of cash that could be deployed. To put it in perspective, the companies above could pay double the current market caps for Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Elan, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Genzyme, Seattle Genetics, and PDL Biopharma, and still have plenty left over as a cushion.

In Warren Buffett-like fashion, pharmaceutical companies have been hoarding cash -- patiently waiting for good prices. And it looks like that time has arrived. There are a lot of drug developers that have been knocked down even though the prospects of their pipelines haven't changed very much.

Enjoy your holiday shopping, pharma.

Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Glaxo, and Pfizer are all Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. To see how dividend-paying stocks can offer both secure income and the opportunity for growth, take a free look at this newsletter with a 30-day free trial. 

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Pfizer is also an Inside Value pick and the Fool owns shares of it. Omrix Biopharmaceuticals is a Rule Breakers pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Eli Lilly and Company Stock Quote
Eli Lilly and Company
$304.61 (0.53%) $1.59
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
$170.67 (0.29%) $0.49
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$49.95 (0.34%) $0.17
Novartis AG Stock Quote
Novartis AG
$87.43 (0.32%) $0.28
GSK Stock Quote
$38.30 (-4.32%) $-1.73

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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