Earnings season is heating up, which means that some of healthcare's biggest names are set to report their latest quarterly results. One of the first biotech blue-chip stocks up to bat in the second quarter is Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG), which is slated to report its quarterly results before the opening bell on Thursday, July 23.
If investors are expecting anything from Celgene it's consistency. Over the last 11 quarters, Celgene has surpassed Wall Street's EPS estimates 10 times. In all but two of those 10 beats, Celgene's EPS has surpassed expectations by $0.01 or $0.02. This is the kind of predictability Wall Street loves.
In the upcoming quarter Celgene is expected to produce $2.24 billion in revenue, a roughly 20% year-over-year improvement, with a consensus EPS of $1.14, which would also be a double-digit percentage improvement over the $0.90 it recorded in Q2 2014.
Both Celgene's top- and bottom-line figures are undeniably important, and they'll likely be the immediate catalyst for any stock price move. However, headline figures don't tell you the most important piece of information you need to know: how it got to those figures. If you don't understand the mechanics of the business model, then you can't make a smart investment decision in the company.
With that in mind, here are three questions that investors should keep in mind when Celgene reports its second-quarter earnings results.
1. How strongly did Revlimid grow, and is the product portfolio becoming more balanced?
One thing you'll learn really quickly about Celgene is just how important blood cancer drug Revlimid is to its overall success. Revlimid is a standard of care in treating multiple myeloma, and if everything goes Celgene's way it could be approved for up to a dozen indications by the end of the decade.
One of the best aspects of Revlimid is that it should have a long time to go before it'll begin facing generic competition. This allows Celgene to rake in profits in the meantime. But when the time does come and Revlimid loses its exclusivity, it's going to be important for Celgene to have a diversified pipeline that isn't wholly reliant on Revlimid. Thus two complications to consider within our first question are "How quickly did Revlimid grow on a year-over-year basis?" and "Is Celgene's revenue pie chart more balanced?"
Keep in mind that in the first quarter Revlimid sales totaled $1.34 billion out of Celgene's $2.08 billion in total revenue. That works out to 64%. By the end of the decade, Wall Street and investors would prefer this number to be closer to 50% or less.
During its Q1 update, Celgene announced that Revlimid was on pace for $5.6 billion to $5.7 billion in revenue for 2015. Based on the $1.34 billion Revlimid produced in Q1, this would mean Wall Street should be expecting anywhere from $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion in sales in Q2.
2. Is Otezla's launch still on track?
The next question that investors are going to want to ask themselves is whether or not Otezla's launch is still on track.
Otezla is Celgene's anti-inflammatory drug approved last year as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis and moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. The second of those is the indication that could bring in the bulk of anti-inflammatory revenue for Otezla. However, Otezla is also being studied in a half-dozen other indications, with Celgene projecting that Otezla could become a blockbuster drug by as early as 2017.
Otezla, alongside cancer drug Abraxane, which has seen a couple label expansions of its own over the years, are critical pieces of the effort to bringing Revlimid's sales down to "just" 50% of Celgene's total revenue. Therefore, it's important to take note of Otezla's still young prescription data and pay attention to management's commentary regarding prescriptions written post-launch compared to other anti-inflammatory standards-of-care, along with overall insurer coverage.
3. Does Celgene's management team still see opportunities to make additional billion-dollar collaborations?
Finally, investors are going to want to pay close attention to any commentary regarding future collaborations.
Over the past year and a half Celgene has orchestrated two mammoth collaborative deals with OncoMed Pharmaceuticals and Juno Therapeutics totaling in excess of $3 billion (assuming OncoMed hits every milestone) and approximately $1 billion, respectively. It also announced the deal to scoop up Receptos and its potential relapsing multiple sclerosis blockbuster (RPC1063) for a little over $7 billion. It'll be important to note just how Celgene's management team plans to approach collaborative deals in the future with so much promised cash suddenly being thrown around. In other words, have we seen the end of the megacollaborations, or is Celgene still willing to offer a bounty for a first-in-class therapy?
We also know that Celgene announced a $4 billion share repurchase agreement in mid-June, which is on top of the $1.2 billion that's remaining under its old repurchase agreement. The allotment of cash for stock buybacks essentially eliminates Celgene's ability to pay a dividend (for the time being), but it makes me wonder if its generous shareholder returns, coupled with its Receptos buyout, may not also slow its collaborative efforts in the near-term. Look for the company to address this with investors and analysts in its Q2 report or during its conference call.
What this investor thinks
Personally, I'm going with history and suggesting that Celgene has a pretty good chance of topping Wall Street's estimates in the second quarter. There's nothing to signify Revlimid sales have slowed. The big question mark remains how well the Otezla launch is progressing, and that could wind up being the sticking point that pushes Celgene higher or lower.
Likewise, over the longer term I still view Celgene as very inexpensive. Its PEG ratio is still below one, and it has plans to nearly triple its EPS entirely from organic growth. Imagine how quickly it could grow if one of its collaborative partners lands a blockbuster!
For healthcare-savvy investors with a higher degree of risk tolerance, I'd suggest paying close attention to what Celgene has to say on Thursday, July 23, and getting this stock on your watchlist if it's not already there.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. 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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