Is Genzyme (Nasdaq: GENZ) the next over-hyped Carl Icahn buyout play, or will it become another biotech Rule Breaker? These are the questions that investors are playing with, and they help explain why Genzyme shares have moved up more than 15% since they briefly touched $68 and change in early November.

Genzyme kicked off the new year yesterday with a presentation at the JP Morgan Healthcare conference. It also reported that it experienced 20% revenue growth in 2007 and that non-GAAP earnings per share are expected to be in the $4 range in 2008.

Genzyme's 2007 revenue growth is in line with its oft-repeated guidance for average revenue growth of 16% to 17% from 2006 to 2011. If it can maintain this top-line growth, Genzyme expects $7 in earnings per share by 2011, with the majority of that growth coming from revenue gains rather than one-time cost-cutting measures.

In the past two years, Genzyme has made several acquisitions, including its buyouts of AnorMED and Bioenvision for a cumulative $925 million. Both deals were heavily contested: by Millennium Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: MLNM) and, initially, by AnorMED's management in the first case, and by nonmanagement Bioenvision shareholders in the second case. This is a good indication that Genzyme likely didn't overpay in either of these deals.

We should find out by the end of 2008 if the AnorMED deal will pay off (which it should), because Genzyme plans to file a marketing application with the FDA and European Medicines Agency (EMEA) in the first half of this year for Mozobil, its drug that aids in the harvesting of stem cells. That is, we'll find out if the FDA doesn't collapse under the anxiety-inducing possibility of actually having to approve a drug.

Genzyme is a bit of an oddball in the drug sector. It is the third-largest biopharma by market capitalization, after Genentech (NYSE: DNA) and Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN), but also has a good amount of small-molecule compounds and even an interesting diagnostics and genetics testing division (which I hope it eventually spins off).

Whether Genzyme looks like a good value today really depends on whether you believe it can meet its 2011 earnings-per-share goal. Operationally, there is nothing wrong with Genzyme, and its management team has proven extremely adept in all areas of drug development and in running a biopharma. The valuation side of things is where Genzyme shares start to chafe.

Genzyme at $60 a share is much more interesting than today's near-$80 share price and the reduced margin of error it affords Genzyme shareholders. With so many moving parts related to its 2011 forecast, not to mention the possibility of increased push-back from government payors in the coming years (depending on who wins the presidential election), I'd recommend a little caution for anyone but really long-term investors in shares of Genzyme.

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