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Eli Lilly Saw Highest Share Gain Among Big Pharma in 2021

Company's valuation doubled in two years, though the stock is down this year

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Feb 08, 2022
Summary
  • Novartis’ 7% decline biggest among large companies.
  • Investors in small-cap Prothena saw value of shares triple.
  • Covid vaccine makers Moderna, BioNTech also enjoyed huge gains.
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Among Big Pharma stocks, the best performers last year were Eli Lilly and Co. (

LLY, Financial), Pfizer Inc. (PFE, Financial) and AbbVie Inc.(ABBV, Financial), according to an analysis by the pharmaceutical consulting group Evaluate. At the other end of the spectrum were Novartis (NVS, Financial), Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK, Financial) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY, Financial), all of which suffered big market cap declines.

Helping drive Eli Lilly's shares higher was investor optimism over two of the Indianapolis-based company’s products in testing, tirzepatide, an innovative diabetes and obesity treatment, and the Alzheimer’s candidate donanemab. Eli Lilly’s valuation reached a record high in 2021 of $264 billion, meaning the company’s market cap has doubled in just two years. Some air has been let out of its balloon so far this year, with shares down some 12% to just over $239.

Driven by demand for its Covid-19 vaccine, Pfizer stock soared 60% last year, giving the pharma giant a valuation of $331 billion, up $127 billion from 2020. Its shares have also taken a hit this year, down about 9%. Meanwhile, AbbVie has kept on rolling as its stock has gained about 6% so far this year following a 26% jump in 2021.

Merck and Novartis investors were basement dwellers, with price drops of 7% and 6%. Bristol-Myers actually eeked out a 1% gain, but the company’s market value retreated by 2%.

Looking at companies of all sizes, small-cap Prothena Corp. PLC (

PRTA, Financial) scored the biggest price gain, jumping 311%. The Dublin-based company is focused on the development of novel therapeutic therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Its programs include a potential treatment for AL amyloidosis and a number aimed at Alzheimer’s. The company may be the subject of profit-taking as its shares have tumbled nearly 30% since the beginning of the year. The good news is that analysts rank it between a buy and strong buy with an average target price of nearly $77, according to Yahoo Finance.

Their Covid-19 vaccines enabled both Moderna Inc. (

MRNA, Financial) and Germany’s BioNTech SE (BNTX, Financial) to achieve the biggest percentage gains in market value, although the picture has changed dramatically so far this year. More than $40 billion has been chopped from Moderna’s market cap, while BioNTech’s value has gone from $62.5 billion to just under $39 billion. It appears the market is wondering whether the companies have a second act after their vaccine businesses inevitably slow down.

The chart below shows the winners and losers among pharma companies in 2021.

Company

2021 Price Change

2021 Mkt. Value Change ($bn)

Market Cap

Dec. 31, 2021 ($bn)

Big Pharma

Eli Lilly

+64%

+103

264

Pfizer

+60%

+127

331

AbbVie

+26

+50

239

Novartis

-7

-19

196

Merck

-6

-13

194

Bristol-Myers

+1

-2

138

Large-Cap

Moderna

+149

+62

103

Merck KGaA (XTER: MRK)

+59

+42

113

Novo Nordisk (

NVO, Financial)

+57

+92

255

Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co., Ltd. (600276.SS)

-49

-31

57

Celltrion Inc. (XKRX:068270)

-45

-19

23

Mid-Cap

BioNtech

+216

+42.9

62.5

Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd. (BHVN)

+61

+3.9

9.0

Horizon Therapeutics (HZNP)

+51

+8.3

24.4

Allakos Inc. (ALLK)

-93

-6.8

0.5

BridgeBio Pharma Inc. (BBIO)

-77

-6.3

2.5

Shin Poong Pharm.Co.,Ltd. (019170.KS)

-74

-4.3

1.4

Source: Evaluate

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