Novo-Nordisk: Diabetes and dollars

This pharmaceutical giant plays a leading role in developing treatments for diabetes.

By TheStockAdvisors Apr 5, 2012 11:57AM
Image: Insurance Money (© Comstock Images/Jupiterimages)By Nicholas Vardy, Bull Market Alert

Novo Nordisk (NVO), a Danish pharmaceutical company that focuses on diabetes care and biopharmaceuticals, is a quiet giant, employing 30,000 people in 76 countries.

With more than 200 million people worldwide suffering from some form of diabetes, I find the short- and long-term investment case for this company as compelling as any idea out there. 

Patients with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes can't make insulin at all and need to inject it their whole lives. Type 2 diabetes -- which is generally linked to obesity -- is now much more common. Today, more than 26 million Americans have diabetes and another 79 million have pre-diabetes.

Experts calculate that by 2050, one in three American adults will suffer from the full-blown disease. And as China, India and the rest of the emerging world adopt Western lifestyles and diets, diabetes is surging there, as well.

No wonder that the treatment of diabetes through insulin has emerged as one of the world's great growth stories. Worldwide insulin sales have quadrupled in the last decade to $15.4 billion.

As diabetes specialist David Nathan of Massachusetts General Hospital observed, "The market for insulin is almost endless. It is going up and up and up. It is not even close to the peak."

Today, Novo-Nordisk is the world's largest insulin maker with a 50% share of the global market. Equally importantly, it has a strong research and development (R&D) pipeline of future products to treat diabetes to keep its competitors at bay.

Novo-Nordisk recently filed for approval of its new drugs Degludec and DegludecPlus. It has another drug for type 2 diabetes, IDegLira, in Phase 3. Five other drugs for type 2 diabetes are in earlier stages of the R&D pipeline.

All of these add up to terrific prospects for the company in the years ahead. So I recommend buying NVO, with a stop at $128.

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