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Pharma's Most Impervious Pipeline

By Sean Williams - Updated Nov 7, 2016 at 9:36PM

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An investment in generics doesn't have to be a bad thing.

As a follow-up to Friday's look into some of the worst pharmaceutical pipelines, I felt it would be only prudent to offer a glance into possibly the most rock-solid pipeline in the business. I know some of you will look at this choice with disdain or perhaps place an asterisk next to the company, but Teva Pharmaceutical (Nasdaq: TEVA) is truly in a class of its own.

Teva Pharmaceutical is a generic-drug vulture -- waiting in the corner to feast on larger pharmaceutical companies' patent plights. The company has roughly 1,250 drugs in its pipeline and countless others waiting for FDA approval. This isn't to say that Teva doesn't bring its own drugs to market, because it has developed Copaxone for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and Azilect for Parkinson's disease. But the company's primary objective is to corner the generic-drug market worldwide, and up until now it's done just that.

Since purchasing Barr Laboratories three years ago, revenue has soared. The company reported a shade over $11 billion in revenue in 2008, and current projections call for the company to rake in more than $20 billion in sales in 2012. Although most of Teva's competition is private, Teva likely brings in more each year than Ranbaxy International, Novartis' (NYSE: NVS) generic-drug division Sandoz International, and Watson Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: WPI) combined!                                                                                    

Teva is trading at less than 8 times forward earnings, which puts it in the same "cheap" territory as Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) and AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN). However, as I pointed out last week, these two companies are slated to potentially lose a big chunk of their revenue stream from patent expirations over the next four years.

Teva, on the other hand, has Copaxone, which accounts for $3.3 billion in annual sales, under patent until 2014. Even a worst-case scenario that sees multiple competitors after 2014 isn't a potential disaster for Teva, which has literally thousands of generic applications currently pending approval.

Teva is a monster that has produced $3.43 billion in free cash flow in the trailing 12 months and pays out a dividend slowly approaching 2%. Investors hammered the stock last week after its experimental drug Laquinimod took a seat behind Biogen Idec's (Nasdaq: BIIB) multiple sclerosis drug BG-12. Again, disappointing but not crippling news.

With the stock down more than 25% from its 52-week high on some temporarily disappointing news, I feel Teva merits a second look from shareholders because this pipeline is about as impervious to fluctuations as it gets. Finding a pipeline that can grow at a double-digit pace with minimal risks is simply too good to pass up.

Would you pass on Teva at these levels or is the stock worth its weight in generic drugs? Voice your opinion in the comments section below and consider adding Teva Pharmaceutical as well as your own personalized portfolio of stocks to My Watchlist.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He would like to remind you not to forget about our friends in Japan who could still use a helping hand. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong. Teva Pharmaceutical and Novartis are Motley Fool Global Gains picks. The Fool owns shares of Teva Pharmaceutical. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that's always cutting-edge and never generic.

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Stocks Mentioned

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited Stock Quote
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited
TEVA
$10.01 (-9.25%) $-1.02
Eli Lilly and Company Stock Quote
Eli Lilly and Company
LLY
$316.82 (2.10%) $6.51
AstraZeneca PLC Stock Quote
AstraZeneca PLC
AZN
$66.42 (-0.48%) $0.32
Allergan plc Stock Quote
Allergan plc
AGN
Novartis AG Stock Quote
Novartis AG
NVS
$85.22 (-0.70%) $0.60
Biogen Inc. Stock Quote
Biogen Inc.
BIIB
$217.58 (-0.94%) $-2.06

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

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