Once a diversified pharmaceutical company facing significant patent expirations (a “cliff”), Bristol-Myers (NYSE:BMY) has transitioned into a focused biopharmaceutical company that is positioned to grow. Many of its competitors responded to their patent cliffs by expanding into other non-drug areas; Bristol-Myers shed its interests in those assets unrelated to the drug business (e.g., medical supply, nutritionals), focused on specialty drugs, and concentrated on only those therapeutic areas that it believed could be profitable over the long term. Its medicines help millions of people fight against such diseases as cancer, cardiovascular disease, hepatitis, HIV/ AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2016, one of Bristol-Myers’ lead immuno-oncology trials (CheckMate-026) failed and its stock price declined significantly. We think this is a short-term setback, and believe the company’s immuno-oncology business is particularly attractive with its strong pipeline of other drugs, significant growth potential, and reasonable valuation at 20 times forward earnings. After weighing the risks versus the long-term opportunities, we initiated a position in Bristol-Myers, which accounted for 1.3% of the Fund on December 31. Continue Reading »