Monday, July 19, 2010

A Shot Across the Bow III

This week, I’ll be finishing my commentary on Andrew Bary’s recent cover story in Barron’s (The article is available online only for subscribers, a short preview is available at .) about the future prospects for drug stocks.

I started this series of blogs because after reading the article for the first time I was astonished at the lack of analysis of what simply appeared to be regurgitations of pharmaceuticals’ public relations flacks. The other interesting aspect of the article is the long term view that I takes. When the dates that Andrew is writing about finally come around no one’s going to remember either this article or him. I wish I could get writing gigs like that.

Last time I left off just as Andrew was about to tackle Roche. He quotes unnamed “bulls” as saying that this company has the best potential of the nine companies he’s writing about. He assumes the stock could rise 30% simply from earnings growth in the next several years. OK, why? Or, better yet, given all that we know that is out there working against this industry why should we expect earnings to simply “increase”? Especially since maybe $1 billion in annual revenues could be at risk if the FDA reconsiders its previous approval of the breast cancer drug Avastin. Check out the Bloomberg Businessweek article for more details ( ).

Next up, Andrew tackles GlaxoSmithKline. This one is going to be easy. (You can tell that I’m enjoying this can’t you?) Now, Andrew couldn’t have known that the Avandia story ( ) would have broken so soon after he wrote his article. In fairness, his comments about the drug are probably his most insightful in the entire article. But, once again, he misses the obvious to follow lemming-like the unnamed bulls that he appears to be so enamored with. What gives here?

Andrew reviews three more companies in his article, Lilly, Bristol Meyers Squibb, and Astra-Zeneca. I won’t prolong the torture by going through these one by one. But, the same themes are there. A long term look at 2015, the current dividends are good, or yeah, there’re problems but there’s always tomorrow. (I’m expecting Annie to get some credits here.) Can this guy really believe all this?

I think Barron’s and Andrew really missed an opportunity here. I’m also disappointed with Barron’s, they typically run tougher pieces that challenge the conventional thinking.

It’s not like this hasn’t happened before in the U.S. economy. The auto and banking industries are good current examples. The personal computer industry is a slightly older example and the mainframe computer industry in the Sixties is another good example. How many of you out there remember Snow White and the Seven Dwarves? (Larry will tell you, I’m a serious student of history.)

One more thing, I’ll take a look back on this article in 2015 and see just well Andrew called this one.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please contact us at We look forward to hearing from you.

Contributed by Guy de Lastin

No comments: