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Ignore Eli Lilly. These 2 Stocks Are Better Buys Right Now

Motley Fool - Tue Nov 21, 2023

All eyes have been on Eli Lilly(NYSE: LLY) in recent times as it prepared to increase its earnings potential in the billion-dollar weight-loss treatment market. Lilly already has generated blockbuster revenue from Mounjaro, a diabetes drug doctors have also prescribed for weight loss. And now growth may really take off. The company scored a big win earlier this month when regulators approved the drug Zepbound for weight management.

Lilly's success and further potential in this market have driven the share price and valuation higher, meaning some of the good news may be priced in at today's level. I still think Lilly is a great long-term stock to own, but right now, a couple of other pharma companies represent better buying opportunities. They're trading at bargain prices and also may offer you top rewards over time. So today, you may want to ignore Eli Lilly and instead scoop up these cheap but promising players.

An investor looks at something on a tablet in a home office.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Pfizer

Many investors took off, leaving the shares down 40% this year, as Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) COVID-19 vaccine and treatment started to face declining demand. As we head toward a post-pandemic world, it's not surprising these products will generate lower revenue than they did at the height of the health crisis. At the same time, Pfizer expects some other key products to lose exclusivity this decade, which will weigh on earnings.

Now here's why I wouldn't let that stop me from buying Pfizer shares. The company has prepared for these challenges through one of its biggest-ever string of product launches. It aims to release 19 new products over 18 months and already has completed 13. These products acquired through business deals may help the company reach $84 billion in revenue by 2030. That's up by 65% from pre-coronavirus days.

That revenue forecast doesn't include coronavirus-product revenue, and those vaccine and treatment products still may bring in billions of dollars for Pfizer. So, as recurrent revenue sources primarily during flu/vaccination season, they could add to annual growth.

2. AbbVie

AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) also faces a pretty big challenge today, but like Pfizer, the pharma giant entered this moment with tools to spur a new era of growth. The company's top-selling drug -- which also is the world's best-selling drug -- recently lost exclusivity. Humira at its peak last year brought in more than $21 billion in revenue across seven treatment areas.

Now, though, sales are declining for the product, and that's clearly weighing on AbbVie's earnings. In the most recent quarter, Humira sales fell 36% to $3.5 billion, and AbbVie reported declines in revenue and profit.

But, if you look at AbbVie through a long-term lens, the situation looks much brighter. The company is grooming two newer immunology drugs -- Rinvoq and Skyrizi -- to take over where Humira leaves off, and this is already getting started. AbbVie has won approvals in eight indications combined for both drugs. Rinvoq and Skyrizi are set to deliver more than $11 billion in revenue this year. And the company forecasts that together their revenue will top that of Humira by 2027.

AbbVie also sells a variety of other blockbusters in areas including neuroscience, oncology, and aesthetics that could add to growth over time.

Why are Pfizer and AbbVie better buys?

Pfizer and AbbVie both have great long-term prospects even if they might stagnate a bit in the near term. This near-term pressure means they're trading for a bargain right now and at a much lower level than Lilly.

PFE PE Ratio (Forward) Chart

PFE PE Ratio (Forward) data by YCharts.

Of course, it's important to put this into perspective. Lilly's revenue climbed in the double digits in the most recent quarter, and the company isn't facing the same headwinds as Pfizer and AbbVie. So, Lilly's valuation isn't ridiculous considering its earnings today and future potential.

But, as mentioned earlier, the reason to forget Lilly and pick up Pfizer and AbbVie has to do with opportunity. These struggling players offer bright prospects down the road, but today you can buy them for a bargain. And that's why now is the moment to get in on these stocks that may offer you enormous growth from these levels if you hold on for the long term.

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Adria Cimino has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Pfizer. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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