Actavis future very bright despite tough quarter

Pfizer ($PFE) is not the only company to see its earnings hit by the release of generics of its former superstar, Lipitor. Actavis ($ACT), one of the key makers of the copycats that ate Lipitor's lunch, said its fourth-quarter earnings paled by comparison to a year ago when it first released an official generic of the drug.

In fact, they fell 70% from $94.8 million, or 75 cents per share, to $28 million, or 21 cents per share, the company reports. When adjusted, they were off 10% to $1.59 per share. Still, it was a good year. For all of 2012, the company said it earned $97.3 million, or 76 cents a share, up 29% to $5.91 billion, thanks in large part to the Lipitor generic.

Actavis, the former Watson Pharmaceuticals, recently dampened expectations for this year, saying it expected earnings of $7.70 a share to $8.10 a share. Not to worry says Bloomberg, which put Actavis at the very top of its Bloomberg Businessweek ranking of the 50 top-performing companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index.

The publication lauds it for all of the known reasons. With its $5.5 billion buyout of Actavis last year, Watson placed itself in the top tier of generic drugmakers, then took the Actavis name to reap its global recognition as it makes a broader play for branded products. The company is targeting emerging markets, particularly in former Soviet Union countries like Kazakhstan, where CEO Paul Bisaro sees petro dollars putting disposable income in the pockets of the middle class, affording them better healthcare. He also likes Southeast Asia. 

The report also points out the sales of generic drugs keep ballooning, forecasted to grow 65% from 2011 to 2016, to more than $400 billion, while the larger branded drug market will eke out single-digit growth. With a deal in 2011 with Amgen ($AMGN) to jointly develop biosimilars, it will also be well positioned for that market when it springs to life.

What it has achieved and still will is reflected in its stock performance, Bloomberg points out. Shares had climbed 231% over 5 years at the point the figures were compiled.

- here's the release
- see the Bloomberg listing

Special Reports: Paul Bisaro - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2013 | Top Biopharma M&A Deals - 2012 Top Watson Pharmaceuticals/Actavis