What's the Prognosis, Dr. Vietor?
Dick Vietor’s arrival at the Hilton was met with warm applause from a packed house of more than 250 curious, serious, and well-informed investors. Mr. Vietor’s annual report is one of the hottest events on the PMCQ calendar — always well attended, always informative and always entertaining.
Humorously recapping predictions from his 1999 PMCQ presentation — Elan up 283%, Forest Labs up 155%, Alza up 100%, Allergan up 63% — Bob Passeretti introduced the investment analyst, who admitted that yes, he did have a good year.
Vietor did have an important announcement for the rapt crowd. First, he has moved into to the world of investment banking. Excellent news for Dick. Unfortunately it also meant we were seeing his last PMCQ appearance.
Interestingly, Vietor recommended that investors take a serious look at the smaller drug companies, despite their excess cash and not-so-plentiful pipeline. Vietor likes their optimism.
So, Dr. Vietor, what is your prognosis for those of us looking to retire early?
If you’re investing in companies focused on the aging population — Alzheimer’s, over-active bladder, incontinence products and the like — you’ve got a healthy portfolio. Vietor singled out Upjohn, Elan, Alza, and Lilly, among others, as wise buys for your financial well-being.
Vietor’s continued recommendation of Elan shows how much he likes to buck trends — to the benefit of investors. In June 1999, Elan had many detractors and east coast analysts falling all over themselves to not buy the stock.
Jesse Eisinger, senior writer on TheStreet.com, reported that Elan was shirking its duty to file earnings reports. Vietor was steadfast in his support, stating "… (Elan’s) stock will move up as ... all this noise fades. Instead of looking back, investors will have to start looking forward."
Elan’s stock value leapt almost 300%. And in October 2000, the company posted third-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations.
Another sector scoring high on the Vietor meter is biologics. In particular, Vietor focused on Regeneron — with its weight-loss drug, Axokine, showing medically meaningful and statistically significant weight loss in phase II trials — and Serono, which is focused on reproductive health, multiple sclerosis, growth and AIDS wasting.
So, the real question remains: Was this Dick Vietor’s last PMCQ hurrah?
If so, Dick, then the PMCQ thanks you for the tips, insights, advice and wake-up calls. You’ve helped bring a lot of portfolios back to life. And for that we will always be grateful. Good luck and best wishes for a financially and personally healthy future!
by Rich Hammond