One of the biggest risks that haunts pharmaceutical companies is the patent cliff. Once drugmakers lose patent exclusivity for an internally developed medicine, cheaper generics typically enter the market, leading to lower sales for these products.
Later this decade, pharma giant Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) will have to deal with patent losses for some of its key products, including cancer drug Ibrance and anticoagulant Eliquis. These two therapies could lose patent protection as early as 2027.
However, Pfizer faces a much more immediate issue. Its COVID-19 products, vaccine Comirnaty and medicine Paxlovid, will almost certainly see their sales drop starting next year. To invest in Pfizer, one has to address both the immediate threat of declining coronavirus-related sales as well as longer-term concerns over the patent cliffs the company faces.
Fortunately, Pfizer has a plan to remain competitive. Let's take a closer look.
The best way for drugmakers like Pfizer to keep their revenue and earnings afloat following patent cliffs is to develop new drugs. To that end, the company recently went through an acquisition spree that allowed it to expand its pipeline. Even before these transactions, it already had a decent portfolio of exciting programs.
But Pfizer is looking to bring it all together starting next year. CEO Albert Bourla predicts that the company could launch at least 10 brand-new drugs in 2023. To put that number in context, Pfizer typically manages one or two new launches every year. The company's lineup of new products next year will include five new vaccines and several medicines across oncology and immunology.
One of these will undoubtedly be ritlecitinib, a potential therapy for alopecia areata, a hair-loss condition. In September, Pfizer announced regulatory acceptance of its application for ritlecitinib as an alopecia treatment in the U.S. and Europe.
Pfizer's new products will have a challenging task. Replacing the company's coronavirus lineup won't be easy, even with the $25 billion in risk-adjusted revenue these new launches will generate by 2030, according to Bourla. After all, Pfizer expects $32 billion in revenue from Comirnaty this year and $22 billion from Paxlovid. However, the good news is that Paxlovid and Comirnaty are likely to keep generating sales even after the pandemic officially ends. COVID-19 is here to stay, and people will continue to get vaccinated and boosted against it.
If Pfizer's goal of launching 10 new products next year actualizes, its revenue and earnings could return to their growth path in 2024 following a decline next year.
Pfizer's shares have underperformed the broader market this year, partly due to the perceived end of its coronavirus-related tailwind. But its long-term prospects remain intact thanks to its vast and growing pipeline.
And the company's share price arguably does not reflect its potential. Pfizer is trading at a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of just 7.1; by contrast, the S&P 500's P/E stands at 17.1, while the pharmaceutical industry's average is 12.7. Pfizer's levels seem to be more than reasonable right now, which is just one more reason to consider purchasing shares.
Here's another: a strong dividend profile. Pfizer offers a current yield of 3.56%, much higher than the S&P 500's 1.82%. Its cash payout ratio of 31% leaves plenty of room for dividend increases. The drugmaker has hiked its payouts by 25% in the past five years, a time frame that includes the worst pandemic years.
In short, Pfizer is a solid option for value and dividend investors alike. And while revenue and earnings growth probably won't happen next year, the drugmaker has a solid plan to turn that around over the long run. Pfizer has many tools to please investors focused on the long game.
10 stocks we like better than Pfizer
When our award-winning analyst team has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*
They just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Pfizer wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.
See the 10 stocks
*Stock Advisor returns as of September 30, 2022
Prosper Junior Bakiny has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.