It's true that nothing is certain but death and taxes. The good news, though, is that the Grim Reaper has had to wait longer and longer for his share. A recent report showed that life expectancy has hit another all-time high of 77.6 years.
Unfortunately, illness will still be a part of that life span. But that isn't necessarily bad news. What I really like from an investing perspective, for example, are the companies focusing on cancer, finding newer and improved diagnostics, treatments, and potentially even cures. Larger companies such as Amgen
TriPath specializes in developing innovative solutions for the early detection and clinical management of cancer. The company's SurePath, a liquid-based Pap test used for the screening and detection of cervical cancer, pre-cancerous lesions, and cell abnormalities, continues to deliver exceptional results. In the U.S., SurePath's market share increased to 21% in the third quarter of 2005, up 3% from the second quarter and up 7% from the third quarter a year ago. SurePath, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., also continues to capture market share in the U.K.
Meanwhile, TriPath's ProEx Br biomarkers, a set of antibodies designed to predict breast cancer recurrence, have also achieved favorable results. The beauty of this technology is that physicians will be able to effectively assess the risk of disease recurrence within five years of a patient's initial diagnosis with early-stage breast cancer.
There are other reasons why investors may want to grow old with TriPath. Amazingly, the company's year-over-year quarterly earnings per share have risen for the past 13 quarters. In fact, revenues have climbed nearly threefold since 2001, and the company just announced that 2006 will produce record earnings and revenues of $102 million to $105 million. Furthermore, net income has increased to $4.2 million ($0.11 per share) for the first nine months of 2005 versus $0.3 million ($0.01 per share) over the same time frame in 2004. Combine that with zero debt and positive operating cash flow in each of the last five quarters, and there's plenty of reason for optimism for this stock.
Sure, TriPath isn't cheap, with a forward P/E of around 35. But if its solid growth continues, TriPath won't be checking into the nursing home anytime soon.
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Fool contributor M.D. Mitchell owns none of the companies mentioned in this story.