A continuous stream of health care companies have made news headlines recently for M&A announcements. Most of these deals have allowed for tax inversion, i.e. allow the parent company, located in the U.S., to domicile in the acquired company's home (thereby enabling the parent company to pay corporate tax rates lower than the U.S. 35% rate). And any number of companies have tried for an inversion this year -- including Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL), which failed in its bid for Swiss company Meda AB. I think Mylan has a more attractive opportunity with another company.
Attractive drug roster and a promising drug pipeline are bonuses
Alkermes (NASDAQ:ALKS) is headquartered in Ireland, which sports a 12.5% corporate tax rate (much lower than the U.S.). The company is an attractive acquisition candidate not only for its address, but also for its strong roster of commercialized products. It specializes in developing long-lasting injectable variants of currently available drugs. It has over 20 commercialized products sold globally. Most of these products are manufactured or marketed by partner companies and Alkermes merely collects royalties on these products. Key commercial products include Risperdal Consta and Invega Sustenna for schizophrenia, Ampyra for multiple sclerosis, Bydureon for type 2 diabetes, and Vivitrol for heroin addiction. These products still have long patent lives and address diseases with large and growing clinical populations. Hence, they could provide a growing revenue platform for Alkermes in the future (and given the 48% year-over-year growth in revenue for 2013, it could be a sizable growth platform).
Alkermes also has a robust and diverse drug pipeline. Aripiprazole Lauroxil is a long-lasting variant of the most widely prescribed anti-psychotic, Aripiprazole or Abilify. This is an important improvement since approximately half of all schizophrenic patients stop taking their medication and care givers need a way keeping schizophrenia in check. The drug just passed phase 3 clinical trials with flying colors and Alkermes intends to submit the drug for regulatory approval in the third quarter of this year. There are also several other drugs in various stages of R&D for various diseases like diabetes, schizophrenia, depression, multiple sclerosis, pain, and cancer. Most of these simply leverage Alkermes' ability to make long-lasting injectable versions of currently available drugs.
Why this makes sense
Mylan is a global generic drug maker based in the U.S. that is an appropriate suitor for Alkermes since the latter company is 35% of the parent company. Moreover, Mylan has already shown an interest in tax inversion by unsuccessfully pursuing Sweden-based Meda AB. Sweden has a corporate tax rate of 22%, much higher than Ireland's tax rate of 12.5% where Alkermes is located. Mylan also recently acquired Agila Specialties, which has many generic and branded injectable products. Acquiring Alkermes would further complement its expertise in injectable drugs.
Now, there could potentially be some competitors, as Alkermes has a knack with forming partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies. It is in ongoing partnerships with Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Biogen Idec, and Acorda Therapeutics. Of all these partners, J&J and AstraZeneca are the best fit for Alkermes. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of J&J, currently markets two of Alkermes' products: Risperdal Consta and Invega Sustenna while AstraZeneca markets Bydureon. However, both of these companies are too large to qualify for tax inversion with Alkermes since U.S. law requires that to qualify for tax inversion, the acquired company must be at least 20% of the parent company. Consequently, Alkermes is too small for big pharma companies to qualify for a tax inversion.
Foolish final thoughts
In conclusion, I think Alkermes is an attractive potential investment due to its strong set of partnerships, growing revenue streams, and exciting and broad pipeline. And maybe spurned Mylan should take notice of the opportunities with this company -- including a potential tax inversion.