Earlier this month, dermatological drug developer and marketer Medicis Pharmaceutical (NYSE:MRX) received FDA approval for its anti-wrinkle injection. Today's news isn't quite as important -- the company announced plans to split its shares 2 for 1 -- but it nevertheless underscores the attention investors have paid Medicis since mid-2002.

Shares of Medicis, which makes treatments for such maladies as acne, head lice, and skin infections, have more than doubled since last July on the back of a growth strategy combining its core brands, product development, product line extensions, strategic partnerships, and acquisitions. While this hasn't translated into massive net income growth in recent years, the company churns out plenty of free cash flow and has a balance sheet that allows flexibility.

Strong cash flow, revenue growth, and a changing product mix that has helped expand gross margins have earned Medicis a premium valuation. (That won't change with the stock split.) The shares currently trade at some 40 times projected net income for fiscal 2004.

But that's understandable. Medicis is hardly the company it was back in 1996, an upstart with about $30 million in annual revenue. Now, it's a stable, reliable drug producer. Heck, Medicis takes in more than $60 million in sales per quarter and pays a dividend. With a strong financial footing and a commitment to product development, investors don't have to look far to understand the reasons behind Medicis' rise.

Like the look of Medicis? Talk it over on our Medicis Pharmaceutical discussion board.

Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at dmarnach@fool.com.