In the competitive spirit of college basketball's annual championship tournament, The Motley Fool brings you Stock Madness 2007! Our writers are making head-to-head arguments for their chosen stocks (but not necessarily investment recommendations -- this is, after all, a game), and you'll pick the winners with your article recommendations and Motley Fool CAPS ratings. Who will win the right to cut down the net? Let's tip things off and find out!

In some industries it's better to be a lean and nimble Michael Jordan rather than a big and lumbering Shaquille O'Neal. The drug development business is definitely one of these industries. While drugmaker Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) is no pipsqueak on the pharmaceutical hard court, its stable of drug products and smaller size relative to other large-cap behemoths like Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) or AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) put it in an enviable position.

When $175 billion-market cap Pfizer brings a new drug to market, even a billion dollars in sales doesn't materially affect its top line of nearly $50 billion. But Gilead, with $3 billion in revenues last year, can afford to seek out niche compounds to bolster its sales growth.

Speaking of sales growth, last year Gilead bumped up its revenue nearly 50% over 2005 by gaining market share for its recently launched Atripla combination HIV pill and expanding the geographic sales reach of its other drugs. With international sales now accounting for over a third of all drug sales, Gilead is becoming much more geographically diversified. This helps protect it from any adverse regulatory or political leanings in the U.S.

Just like Kobe Bryant's marketing endorsement deals, shares of Gilead aren't cheap, trading at 26 times its 2006 operating cash flow and non-GAAP earnings per share. But if you take a more forward-looking view, you see the at least 30% sales growth guidance for this year, plus the all-star HIV franchise that Gilead controls, and shares don't seem so expensive.

For any good basketball team, being able to recruit new rookies is the key to sustainable success. Gilead has three draft pick compounds in phase 3 testing that could all be treatments for blockbuster indications. There is also its novel HIV compound, which is in a phase 2 study, and the recently acquired hypertension treatment ambrisentan that could be on the market in three months if it gains regulatory approval.

If you're looking for the diversification and safety of a large-cap pharma but with the ability to still have sustained double-digit percentage top and bottom-line growth, Gilead is a slam dunk investment choice that puts its March Madness competition to sleep.

If you love for Gilead as much as you do your top NCAA hoops pick and think it deserves to move onto the next round, simply follow this link and rank the stock "outperform" in Motley Fool CAPS. If you disagree, vote it "underperform." Later this week, we'll tally your votes to determine which stocks will advance one step closer to the title match.

Click Select Comfort to read the opposing article in this contest and click here for all of the entries in the tourney.

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Fool contributor Brian Lawler can't believe that his beloved USC is actually playing decent basketball this year. He does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Pfizer is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.