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Is Gilead's Latest Japan Win Good News For Shareholders?

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Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) announced on March 26 that Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare approved Sovaldi as a hepatitis C treatment. The approval comes a year and a half after the biotech company filed the New Drug Application, making Sovaldi the first Gilead drug available in Japan.

Sovaldi is an attractive treatment option because it is one pill taken once a day for twelve weeks that directly targets the virus.

Japan offers a large potential market for Sovaldi because the country has one of the highest rates of liver cancer due to hepatitis C of any industrialized country, according to a press release. Gilead Executive Vice President, Norbert Bischofberger, commented, "There is a need in Japan for new HCV treatment options that are more effective and better tolerated and we have been pleased to partner with the medical community here in Japan to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of Sovaldi."

Although the treatment of hepatitis C has come a long way, Gilead has come under fire for marketing the drugs at a prohibitively expensive price tag. Sovaldi's full price tag is $84,000 per treatment course, or $1,000 per pill.

Despite the price tag, Gilead reported total Sovaldi sales of $1.732 billion in the fourth quarter. Sovaldi is Gilead's second highest grossing treatment next to Harvoni, its other hepatitis C treatment which brought in $2.107 billion in sales in the last quarter. Together, Sovaldi and Harvoni make up more than half of Gilead's sales.

According to SmarterAnalyst, Jason Kolbert of Maxim Group reiterated a Buy rating on Gilead with a price target of $127 on March 31. The analyst notes, "Gilead's stock has been volatile within an unstable Biotechnology marketplace, but we see good news in the Sovaldi approval in Japan (which is in line with our expectations)."

Kolbert continued that Harvoni, as well as Sovaldi, remain the "key drivers" for the biotech company. He commented, "Harvoni has the potential to create real pharmaco-economic value, as regimens get shorter and the price goes down to essentially cure HCV." According to Kolbert's model, he is confident that "Gilead can generate significant free cash flow through the end of this decade."

Jason Kolbert has rated Gilead 15 times since March 2013, earning a 73 percent success rate recommending the biotech company with a +16.3 percent average return per recommendation.

Overall, the top analyst consensus for Gilead Sciences on TipRanks is Strong Buy.

Kolbert has rated many biopharmaceutical companies such as Medivation and Galena Biopharma. Kolbert has rated Medivation 10 times since October 2013, earning a 90 percent success rate recommending the stock with a +44.9 percent average return per MDVN rating.

However, Kolbert is not always accurate with his ratings. He has consistently rated Galena a Buy 9 times since March 2014 as the stock price fell, earning a 0 percent success rate recommending GALE and -25.2 percent negative success rate recommending the stock. Overall, Kolbert has a 44 percent success rate recommending stocks with a +9.0 percent average return per rating.

Latest Ratings for GILD

Nov 2017Maxim GroupUpgradesHoldBuy
Nov 2017ArgusDowngradesBuyHold
Oct 2017BMO CapitalMaintainsOutperform

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The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

Posted-In: Jason Kolbert MaximAnalyst Color Biotech Price Target Reiteration Analyst Ratings General


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