Biotech Buyouts: Who's Next?

Biotech Buyouts: Who's Next?

There's been plenty of buzz lately about the continuing saga of the possible buyout of Onyx Pharmaceuticals by Amgen . After initially rebuffing Amgen, Onyx warmed up to the possibility -- for a higher price, of course -- although its hesitancy to share ongoing trial data for blood cancer drug Kyprolis temporarily muddied the waters yet again.

All of the drama has prompted me to think about the inevitable question: Who's next? Biotech buyouts sometimes beget other buyouts. Even when they don't, they get people thinking about acquisitions. Here are three companies (from lowest to highest market cap) that I think could be possible pick-ups for the right buyer.

1. Medivation
Several big drugmakers could be kicking themselves for not buying Medivation already. The biotech landed the top spot on a recent ranking of the best-performing biotech stocks of the last decade. How good was Medivation's performance? Only an 11,000% gain over 10 years!

Medivation's success has been powered by prostate cancer drug Xtandi. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration a year ago, Xtandi racked up sales of nearly $158 million in the first half of 2013. Medivation splits the revenue, though, with partner Astellas Pharma.

Analysts peg Xtandi's peak annual sales potential between $1 billion and $2 billion. Medivation's market cap is currently a little more than $4 billion -- just two-to-four times those peak sales estimates. That valuation isn't bad for a big pharmaceutical company looking to buy growth potential.

2. Seattle Genetics
Another biotech that I suspect could be on the radar screen for potential acquisition is Seattle Genetics. The stock has been on a tear so far in 2013, with shares soaring 78%.

The crown jewel for Seattle Genetics is Adcetris, which treats Hodgkin lymphoma and anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or ALCL. Adcetris generated nearly $70 million in sales for the biotech during the first half of 2013. Seattle Genetics markets the drug in the U.S. and Canada, while its partner Takeda/Millenium owns the rights to market Adcetris in the rest of the world.

With a current market cap of $5 billion, Seattle Genetics wouldn't be too much of a stretch for a buyout by several large players. One thing I could see getting in the way of any deal, though, is concern that the stock is priced too highly right now.

3. Incyte
My colleague Sean Williams and I see eye-to-eye on the prospects for Incyte. Sean suspects that the biotech could be on the short list for Swiss drugmaker Novartis. I think Sean is on to something there.

That could especially be the case with Incyte's latest news on JAK1 inhibitor Jakafi. The company announced positive results on Wednesday from a mid-stage study of Jakafi in treating advanced pancreatic cancer. Incyte notched sales of $136 million of the drug last year after gaining U.S. approval in late 2011. Jakafi has shown strong year-over-year revenue growth so far this year.

While the pancreatic cancer study results pushed Incyte's market cap 33% higher in one day, we're still only looking at a biotech valued at $5.5 billion. That's not overly expensive considering that peak annual sales estimates for Jakafi are around $1 billion. If Novartis doesn't buy Incyte, there could be others with interest.

The best biotech buyout
Regardless of what big drugmakers with deep pockets do (or don't do), you can mount your own biotech buyout anytime you like. Of these three, I like Medivation the best.

The average price target for Medivation from 18 analysts covering the stock is just under $70 per share. That reflects an upside potential of more than 26% from the current share price. With Medivation seeing strong growth from Xtandi and sporting a reasonable valuation compared to many biotechs, my view is that the company is worth taking a look at.

While you look at biotechs like Medivation, it also makes a lot of sense to look at some less volatile stocks, too. Diversifying into dividend-paying stocks to go along with your biotech investments is a wise course of action. The Motley Fool's special report "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks" is a great way to kick-start your search. Just click here to get your free copy today.

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Fool contributor Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Seattle Genetics. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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