Gilead Beats Estimates But Not Whispers

  • Gilead earnings beat consensus estimates but not the whisper number.
  • Gilead shares fell after earnings, having risen 2% during the trading day.
  • The biotech sector is being beaten down by high prices.

Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) released some spectacular numbers, which beat the consensus estimates. But the stock sold off anyway as speculators had gotten a bit ahead of themselves.

Total revenue came in at $8.3 billion, and net income came in at $4.6 billion, $3.06/share fully diluted.  This means more than half of revenue fell to the net income line, a really impressive performance. The whisper number, however, had been for $3.08/share in earnings.

Investors had piled in during the day, taking the shares to $110.99, up 2.17% or $2.36 on the day. But the failure to beat the whispers took the stock down $1.98, 1.79%, in after-hours trading.

As I wrote before earnings Gilead is considered a “safe haven” from the hammering biotech stocks have gotten in the wake of accusations against Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:VRX) and its use of prescribing pharmacies.

Gilead has two key viral treatments for which it is being paid a hefty premium. One is Sovaldi, a treatment for hepatitis C, 90% effective and priced for that reason at $84,000, nearly $1,000 per pill. The other is Stribild, a drug for treating HIV.

What may be most controversial about Gilead is that, knowing how virulent hepatitis C is in the developing world, and knowing that the key to defeating it lies in fighting it on that front, it has approved a version of Sovaldi that costs just $1/pill. That’s still considered high in some countries, and is well in excess of production costs, but it also means western patients are paying an enormous subsidy for their treatment.

That’s why Gilead shares sell at a Price/Earnings multiple of just 11.6, well below the general market. Even the introduction of a 43 cent/share dividend, a yield of 1.55%, has not really moved the shares higher. Over the last year the shares are flat.
GILD stock chart

Source:Gilead Stock Price Data by amigobulls.com

Perhaps what investors should be looking at, instead of the price of its drugs or the pall hanging over the sector, is Gilead’s pipeline, which features three cancer treatments in third stage trials, and two liver disease treatments in third stage trials, as well as three HIV treatments presently before regulators in the U.S. and Europe.

It used to be said, back in the last century, that the company which could find a cure for AIDS would make itself a mint. Gilead has indeed made itself a mint. But investors are a funny lot. You cure AIDS, you cure hepatitis, and people ask why does it cost so much? And what have you done for me lately?

That’s what makes Gilead stock so cheap today.

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