Big Pharma doesn't win the margin stakes. That's Jazz, Celgene, Regeneron and Alexion

Margins, margins, margins. That's an inevitable mantra among top investors and analysts. Just ask Novartis ($NVS) CEO Joe Jimenez, who's pledged big improvements in the Swiss drugmaker's spread. Or Eli Lilly ($LLY) CFO Derica Rice, who's had to explain why his company can promise to maintain margins as its sales spiral downward.

But if you want to talk to CEOs whose drug companies top the ranks of profit-generators, you'll have to go much smaller. As Investor's Business Daily reports, Jazz Pharmaceuticals ($JAZZ) boasts one of the best margins out there--and not just among drug companies. Jazz rode its controversial narcolepsy drug Xyrem to a 54.4% annual margin, IBD says. Not to mention a 40% hike in Q2 sales to $291.2 million.

Celgene ($CELG), the blood cancer specialist that's been growing by the billions, has been kicking plenty of that top-line growth to the bottom line, too. The company boasts an annual profit margin of 47.4%, thanks to leaping sales of its multiple myeloma treatment Revlimid. And CEO Bob Hugin has promised to double sales to $12 billion by 2017, so he's clearly confident that Revlimid, plus its newly approved myeloma treatment Pomalyst, will keep delivering.

Meanwhile, the often-spotlit Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ($REGN) racked up a 44.4% margin, with more than $1 billion in 2013 revenue and a money-churning eye drug, Eylea. Its Q2 numbers were impressive, too, with a 45% increase in sales to $665.7 million.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals ($ALXN) comes in for a margin award, too. IBD calculates a 42.9% annual margin for the rare disease specialist, thanks to the continued strong growth of its ultra-pricey drug Soliris. For Q2, IBD points out, the company delivered more than a half-billion dollars in sales, a year-over-year increase of more than one-third.

Funny thing about delivering margins. It appears to deliver some hefty pay packages, too. Three of these four companies have CEOs that hit FiercePharma's highest-paid list this year--two at the very top: Regeneron's CEO, Len Schleifer; Celgene's Hugin; and Alexion chief Leonard Bell.

- see the IBD story

Special Reports: The 15 highest-paid biopharma CEO of 2013 - Leonard "Len" Schleifer, Regeneron - Bob Hugin, Celgene - Leonard Bell, Alexion

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