Celgene (CELG) provides a double dose of growth potential: further growth of its currently approved therapies and a rich pipeline with some therapies closing in on FDA approval and commercialization. Since I last wrote about Celgene on August 2, its stock price has risen from $57.29 to today's close of $64.29. Celgene's 52 week high is $68.25, reached on October 24th.
Consider Celgene's Q3 earnings reported last week. Revenue was $1.22 billion, up 3% sequentially from $1.18 billion and up 41% from $886 million in the year-earlier quarter. GAAP net income was $373.0 million, up 34% sequentially from $279.2 million and up 33% from $281.2 million year-earlier. GAAP EPS were $0.81, 37% sequentially from $0.59 and up 35% from $0.60 year-earlier. Non-GAAP EPS was EPS $1.02.
Most of this rapid growth was based on a single therapy, Revlimid for multiple myeloma (MM) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Revlimid revenues grew 28% from a year earlier. Expansion is largely international now, with Russia, China and Brazil still ahead. In addition, various clinical trials have indicated Revlimid will be beneficial in other types of cancer. Revlimid is in Phase III trials for CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia), NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) and prostate cancer.
Thalomid is ancient and had revenues $83 million, down 12% y/y.
VIDAZA for multiple myeloma revenues were $191 million, up 35% y/y. This is despite losing exclusivity in the United States.
The big new revenue generator is ABRAXANE for breast cancer. Abraxane is also in clinical trials for treating lung, pancreatic, bladder, skin, and ovarian cancers. ABRAXANE revenues were $114 million, up 20% sequentially, that is quarter over quarter. Celgene did not market it a year ago. A Phase III trial comparing it to decarbazine for metastatic melanoma is expecting to read out data in mid 2012. Phase III Pancreatic cancer trial should complete enrollment in Q1 2012. International revenue continues to ramp. For instance, in the quarter Celgene received reimbursement permission for Abraxane in Greece and the Czech Republic.
Earlier in the pipeline, Celgene displays depth-of-field. Of course, most pre-clinical drugs don't make it through all the clinical phases and FDA approval-- there are likely to be some losers. Celgene's pipeline is so broad and important you could write a book about it.
In Oncology / Hematology we have pomalidomide in Phase III trials for myelofibrosis and nearing the end of Phase II for multiple myeloma. There is Amrubicin in Phase III for small cell lung cancer. In Phase II we also have ACE-011 for CIA and ABI-008 for prostate cancer. In Phase I we have Tork Inhibitor and ABI-009, both for solid tumors. There are two additional pre-clinical ABI variants for solid tumors.
Apremilast completed enrollment of patients in Phase III trials for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, with three more Phase III trials to complete enrollment by year-end. Phase II trial data for ankylosing spondylitis will be presented in November. In inflammation and immunology we also have JNK CC-930, CC-11050 and PDA-001 in Phase II.
Pomalidomide Phase II data for relapsed and refractory myeloma will be presented at ASH in December. The company is conducting a broad clinical program to support global registrations for pomalidomide.
Beyond that, Celgene lists over a dozen agents in discovery and pre-clinical phases.
Of course, what will affect Celgene's stock price soonest are the late stage candidates. The first big mover is likely to be expanding the label for Revlimid to first-line (initial) treatment of multiple myeloma. The second would be Abraxane for non-small cell lung cancer, with FDA submission in second half of 2011 and a decision likely in the first half of 2012.
In general, it is a very good time to invest in biotechnology-- even given the known risks. Celgene is a cash cow that also has unrealized value in its pipeline. Small, risky biotechs aren't commanding the high premiums they used to, which is good because many of their drug candidates don't work out. With the larger biotechs like Celgene, if a drug candidate fails it is disappointing and the stock can lose some momentum, but cash flow can be used to buy and develop more candidates. Celgene's cash and equivalents balance ended at $2.58 billion. Cash flow from operations was $602 million. $885 million was spent on share repurchases in the quarter.
Hopefully some time soon Celgene will start paying out a dividend, which is the true gold standard for today's investors.
Disclosure: I am long Celgene. I have no plans to buy or sell Celgene in the next two weeks.