At the end of trading today (Friday) it looks like the stock market won't end up in positive territory, but it will come close - an event every trader and investor on the planet planet will take in a Wall Street minute.
No rhyme or reason why, it just seems that the market is finally ready to capitulate after eight straight days of mega-losses that wiped out over $2 trillion in portfolio assets in the U.S. alone. A point worth noting, markets always self-correct - in both directions. So eventually profit motives will be so strong that investors won't be able to resist the urge of buying stocks on the cheap.
Now to the tech market. In my last post, I mentioned that one possible safe haven from this Mother of All Stock Markets is medical technology stocks. I specifically mentioned how Baxter International was well positioned to survive and even thrive throughout the chaos.
Well, one big trading partner of Baxter's is well-positioned, too - Amgen, the big biotechnology giant. Amgen specializes (from the firm's web site) "in the discovery and manufacture of human therapeutics." Amgen markets products in the areas of supportive cancer care, nephrology, inflammation, and metabolic diseases. Principal offerings include anemia treatments Aranesp and Epogen, rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel, and white blood cell stimulator Neupogen.
Amgen, which has a marketing alliance with Baxter International, has a great balance sheet, with plenty of cash on hand to weather this economic storm. Like most biotech firms, Amgen is able to get liquid fast, generating quick cash from their prescription drug sales. Amgen is no different - it has $8.5 billion in cash on hand right now. So the company doesn't need the kind of equity financing that has held back good companies in other industries during the recent credit crunch. Amgen has enough cash for two years worth of trouble, and investors will pay a premium these days for that kind of stability.
Amgen also has some juice going for it beyond a big cash position. Wall Street analysts were happy to see that, last month, Amgen reported successful Phase 3 trial results showing that its experimental osteoporosis drug significantly reduced the risk of bone fractures in post-menopausal women. In addition, Amgen reported second quarter earnings per share of $1.14 and revenues of $3.76 billion. Both numbers easily outpaced Wall Street estimates of $1.02 and $3.58 billion, respectively. As a result, eight Wall Street brokerage houses (yes, there are still some left) slapped a "buy" label on Amgen and pegged the stock price between $67 and $80 per share).
At a time like this, stability is key and cash is king. Amgen has both. And, it has the kind of long-haul reach that will keep it profitable even after the market rebounds, making it my play of the week.