Yesterday when the market was a sea of red, shares of AbbVie (ABBV) were a small beacon of green. Today when, as of 3:40 p.m. most of the market is green, AbbVie is a small spark of red.
What’s up? AbbVie was higher yesterday on speculation that a cocktail of two of AbbVie’s HIV drugs, Lopinavir and Ritonavir, were being tested for their efficacy against the coronavirus outbreak in China. Today, with the market deciding that it’s not quite so afraid of the coronavirus , it has pushed shares of AbbVie slightly into the red with a loss of 0.23% on the day so far.
But he market’s focus on AbbVie and coronavirus has meant that the big AbbVie news of the day has been largely ignored. And you can therefore buy this good news without the usual good news premium.
The news is that Allergan (AGN) and AbbVie announced an agreement to divest Allergan’s mid-stage drug candidate brazikumab and marketed drug, Zenpep to AstraZeneca and Nestle, respectively. This clears the way, barring any unexpected last minute objections from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission, for AbbVie to close its acquisition of Allergan. That deal has been hanging fire since June 2019, when AbbVie announced that it would acquire Allergan in a cash-and-stock deal worth nearly $63 billion.
Analysts are already looking for AbbVie to grow earnings per share to $2.21 for the December quarter (with results to be reported on February 7). That would represent 16.3% year over year earnings growth.
Closing the Allergan deal would add to AbbVie’s long-term growth prospects at a time when its big drug Humira has already lost patent protection in Europe and is facing the end of protection in the U.S. market in 2023. The prospect of losing patent protection on Human is why AbbVie trades at just 8.7 time forward projected earnings per share and pays a dividend of 5.6%. Morningstar calculates that the stock is 17% undervalued.
Replacing the $18 billion or so in revenue the Humira produces won’t be an easy task, but acquiring Allergan sure provides cash flow help since that company is projected to show sales of $15 billion in 2020. (AbbVie’s pipeline isn’t exactly empty either of new drug candidates especially cancer drug Imbruvica, where sales are projected to top out at $6 billion, and in next generation immunology drugs.)
But the big prize in the acquisition is Allergan’s Botox franchise and the likelihood that AbbVie can grow revenue from Botox by increasing its international sales and its share of the market for treating migranes by using AbbVie’s salesforce
I’m adding the shares with their 5.6% yield to my Dividend Portfolio tomorrow. (You’ve missed the next quarterly payout. The record date for owning shares was January 15.)