10/2/2012 5:35 PM ET|
5 stocks to buy on Europe's woes
Shares of European drug-maker Sanofi (SNY) are at multi-year highs, at $44, so it might seem odd to argue that the stock is being held back by fears about Europe. But shares of the Paris company would probably be even higher if investors weren't fleeing Europe-focused mutual funds in droves, putting downward pressure on the stock.
Sanofi does face problems because it is based in Europe, where governments are pressuring down drug prices as part of their austerity measures. But Sanofi gets only about 24% of its sales from Western Europe, and a lot of that is from over-the-counter products and animal-care products -- areas not under government pressure, points out JPMorgan Cazenove analyst Richard Vosser. He has an overweight rating on the stock in part because Sanofi gets more than 30% of its sales from emerging markets, and the potential there is still big. Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher recently pointed out that the company has reached only 20% of the population in China thus far.
Another big fear with pharma companies like Sanofi is the "patent cliff" -- or the threat from generic drugs as patent protection rolls off for blockbuster drugs. But these fears may be overblown for Sanofi, says RidgeWorth's Deakins. By the end of 2013, most of the big patent losses at Sanofi will be in the past.
And it will soon be rolling out new potential blockbusters to replace them. "Sanofi is approaching several potential launches that should help reinvigorate growth in late 2013," says Morningstar analyst Damien Conover. These include drugs like Zaltrap for cancer, Aubagio and Lemtrada for multiple sclerosis, Lyxumia for diabetes, and Kynamro for high cholesterol. Despite recent outperformance, "we still see an attractive risk/reward profile," says Morgan Stanley analyst Peter Verdult, who has an overweight rating on the stock.
5. Schneider Electric
American depositary receipts of Schneider Electric (SBGSY), which sells power-management products such as circuit breakers and panel boards, have been weak since mid-September, falling to about $12 from above $13.75. Renewed doubts about Europe probably explain some of this move. The company is based in France, and it does much of its business in Europe.
But fears about Europe's impact on this business are overblown, maintains Vars, because most of the company's business is from outside Europe. It does about 40% of its business in emerging markets.
In addition, the nature of its business gives it pricing power, says Vars. Schneider Electric's products typically account for just a small part of an overall construction project budget, but they are essential in part because they often help save energy. "That gives them pricing power," says Vars. "People aren't going to mess around and try to go with an alternative." He thinks the stock looks cheap, and he expects 20% to 30% upside from here.
At the time of publication, Michael Brush did not own or control own shares of any company or fund mentioned in this column.
Michael Brush is the editor of Brush Up on Stocks, an investment newsletter. Click here to find Brush's most recent articles and blog posts.
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