Balance is de rigueur around the world -- the Japanese have the concept of "wa," the Chinese have "feng shui," and in America we have "less filling, tastes great." French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis
Sanofi reported that sales climbed more than 8% for the fourth quarter. In an odd quirk, Sanofi reported only top-line results -- the rest of the income statement won't be forthcoming until March.
With respect to the aforementioned balance, Sanofi reported $4.8 billion in pharmaceutical sales, but no drug accounted for more than 13% of that total. Better still, the company had 12 separate compounds that tallied more than $100 million in fourth-quarter sales. Overall, Sanofi's top 15 prescription drugs grew by 15.5% for the quarter, and only two drugs posted declines. With such a balanced roster of drugs, Sanofi shouldn't be susceptible to the risks of generics competition or dramatic profit declines because of a drug withdrawal.
There is much to like about Sanofi-Aventis. In additional to solid franchises in "cash cow" niches such as insulin and vaccines, the company has a solid presence in cardiology, oncology, antibiotics, and CNS (central nervous system) medicines -- nearly all of the pharmaceutical "hot spots." The pipeline is no less attractive, with drugs such as Accomplia and Dronedarone nearing approval. Accomplia, a drug that appears effective for treating both obesity and nicotine addiction, could be a major blockbuster, while Dronedarone represents a promising option for a pharmacologically hard-to-treat disease (atrial fibrillation).
With operating margins second only to Merck
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson holds a CFA. He has no ownership interest in any stocks mentioned.
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