The Motley Fool's readers have spoken, and I have heeded your cries. After months of pointing out CEO gaffes and faux pas, I've decided to make it a weekly tradition to also point out corporate leaders who are putting the interests of shareholders and the public first and are generally deserving of praise from investors. For reference, here is last week's selection.
This week, we're going to jump to the big pharmaceutical aisle and highlight Roche's (NASDAQOTH:RHHBY) exceptional leader, Severin Schwan.
Kudos to you, Mr. Schwan
Big pharmaceutical companies have a tough road ahead with EvaluatePharma forecasting that $29 billion in branded drugs will lose patent protection in 2013. Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) is facing generic exposure to 31% of its revenue stream when it loses patent exclusivity on Cymbalta and Humalog this year. Similarly, Amgen's (NASDAQ:AMGN) Neupogen, which comprises 7.5% of annual sales, will lose patent protection in 2013.
But, is Roche having these same problems? Not nearly in the same magnitude thanks to a series of acquisitions, in the form of Ventana Medical and Genentech, which have set the global pharmaceutical company up for years of continued growth.
For instance, Roche's T-DM1, a revolutionary new breast cancer treatment aimed at HER2-positive breast cancer, and developed in conjunction with ImmunoGen's (NASDAQ:IMGN) targeted antibody payload technology, recently received priority review status and could drastically improve median survival rates based on its clinical data. Another popular series of drugs in Roche's pipeline are Lucentis, co-licensed with Novartis (NYSE:NVS), and Avastin. Both have been effective in the macular degeneration market, and additional indications for Lucentis, including treating diabetic macular edema, give the company a solid outlook.
A step above his peers
Severin Schwan isn't just an outstanding leader because of the genius strategic moves he made; he also should be held in high regard because of his generous shareholder payouts, the perks employees of Roche receive, and Roche's corporate generosity.
In terms of dividends, Roche is no slouch. Having more than doubled its dividend over the past three years and paying out 67% of profits in the form of a stipend last year, Roche shareholders are privy to a very stable 3.7% yield.
Roche's employees also get an extremely unique set of perks that should make anyone else in the health-care field jealous. On top of the expected comprehensive health plans, Roche offers medical plans geared specifically for those with domestic partners and also offers certain infertility benefits, including in vitro fertilization. I'm not done just yet, either! Roche completely reimburses 100% of the tuition costs of eligible college courses and (at least for its Genentech employees) it provides an on-site barber, dentist, and (get this!) dog-sitters!
Finally, we can't let Roche's corporate generosity be overlooked. Although Roche's programs are often local in nature, they are far reaching, encompassing everything from humanitarian care in low-income countries to EDUCARE, a program aimed at training oncology health-care workers in sub-Saharan Africa.
Two thumbs up
With so many possible investment choices in the health-care field, Severin Schwan is making it very easy for income-seeking investors and those seeking socially responsible companies to give Roche a long look. Schwan's key acquisitions have set Roche up for years of additional growth all while shareholders, employees, and communities around the world benefit. Schwan may not get much attention with his company being based in Europe, but make no mistake about it, he's one incredible CEO and worthy of two thumbs up from me!
Do you have a CEO you'd like to nominate for this prestigious weekly honor? If so, head on over to the new CEO of the Week board and chime in with your fellow Fools on who deserves some praise. If you don't have a nominee yet, don't worry; you can still weigh in on other members' selections.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. He loves giving credit when credit is due. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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