Innovation never sleeps in the healthcare sector. At the beginning of this year, there had never been a vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Now, three companies have managed to earn approval in this area.
The first was U.K.-based pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY) followed soon after, in that order. The RSV vaccine market could be worth $10 billion by 2030, according to some estimates. Let’s see why Pfizer and Sanofi are great picks to profit from this market.
RSV causes cold-like symptoms and is relatively mild for most people. But for some, especially infants or older adults, it can cause serious health problems such as pneumonia.
Some estimates have found that there are more than 57,000 hospitalizations, 500,000 emergency department visits, and between 100 and 500 RSV-associated deaths among children under 5 in the U.S. annually.For adults over 60, there are 177,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths. These numbers suggest that the RSV vaccine market for older adults could be the largest.
Sanofi’s RSV vaccine, Beyfortus, targets infants and won approval in July. Pfizer’s RSV vaccine, Abrysvo, earned approval in protecting older adults and infants through maternal immunization in the U.S. and also notched the latter indication in Europe.
It’s worth noting that other companies could join this market. Moderna recently announced it was submitting its RSV vaccine candidate to regulatory bodies in the U.S. and Europe. Even if this market is worth $10 billion by 2030, that’s not a large pie to share between all these companies. So it makes little sense to invest in any of them for their potential in this market alone. Still, an RSV vaccine could be a meaningful growth driver, not to mention that it shows these companies’ innovative capabilities.
If the rest of the business is strong, the RSV vaccine will only strengthen the argument in favor of investing in a particular stock. Consider Pfizer, which is currently on an impressive streak of approvals. The company has launched four brand-new drugs in addition to its RSV vaccine this year. That’s impressive for a drugmaker that typically earns between one and two new approvals every year. And Pfizer isn’t done.
There should be more regulatory wins for the company ahead. Pfizer is setting a solid base for the future, partly thanks to the windfall it got from its coronavirus products. It made tens of billions of dollars from this portfolio, and although its coronavirus-related sales are now dropping off a cliff (as expected), Pfizer made the best of its success in this area. It is also this success that allowed it to make a string of acquisitions, including cancer specialist Seagen for $43 billion.
Pfizer has a strengthening portfolio, a deep pipeline, and is being seriously overlooked by the market, as evidenced by its shares tumbling by 33% year to date. That’s not to mention Pfizer’s excellent dividend profile. The company looks like an excellent stock to buy and hold through 2030, a period during which its RSV vaccine could reach blockbuster status.
But that’s just one small piece of the puzzle for this pharma giant. Pfizer’s revenue and earnings will return to growth soon enough, and its stock should bounce back.
What about Sanofi? The company also has key growth drivers other than Beyfortus. Sanofi’s Dupixent, an eczema treatment it co-markets with Regeneron, is growing its sales rapidly. In the second quarter, Sanofi recorded Dupixent revenue of 2.6 billion euros, up 34.2% year over year. And it could earn a key indication in treating COPD that would meaningfully move the needle in the right direction.
Dupixent has been Sanofi’s most important product for a while, and that should continue to be the case. Sanofi also markets Tzield, a medicine indicated to prevent type 1 diabetes in at-risk patients — the first FDA-approved product of this type. Sanofi acquired Tzield along with the company that originally developed it, Provention Bio, earlier this year. Sanofi has several other products whose sales are growing at a good clip, along with an exciting pipeline that should lead to new approvals.
In short, Sanofi is also a solid pick for investors looking for growth-oriented biotech stocks to hold through the end of the decade.
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Prosper Junior Bakiny has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Pfizer and Seagen. The Motley Fool recommends GSK and Moderna. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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