How Much Would You Pay for Genzyme?

7/26/10

Speculation has erupted over the potential outcome of reported M&A talks between the Cambridge, MA-based biotech powerhouse Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ) and the French drug giant Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY). While biotech watchers salivate over the potential sale of Genzyme, we thought it would be interesting to hear from you about what you think the company is worth.

Frenzied trading of Genzyme’s stock last Friday—after the Wall Street Journal reported that Sanofi had made informal overtures to acquire the world’s largest maker of rare disease drugs—pushed Genzyme’s price up about 15 percent for the day. The stock was quoted at $67.07 per share as of 12:01 pm Eastern time today, giving the firm a market cap of just shy of $17.9 billion. If a sale does occur, according to Boston-based investment banking and equities research firm Leerink Swann, Genzyme is likely to fetch a share price somewhere in the mid-$70s range or higher. However, Milwaukee, WI-based investment firm Robert W. Baird & Company said in a note to investors last week that it’s sticking to a previous estimated buyout price in the low-to-mid-$60s per share that it made in February.

There are many factors to consider when estimating Genzyme’s potential value in a buyout. But there are a couple of big considerations. Big Pharma players like Sanofi are hungry for more drugs to sell as their legacy products lose patent protection. As the WSJ reported today, British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) are also potential suitors. So there’s a chance that a bidding war among potential buyers could increase the price of Genzyme. Also, Genzyme specializes in making complex therapies for rare illnesses that are more difficult for generic drugmakers to copy than conventional small-molecule drugs.

On the down side, Genzyme has been plagued with manufacturing woes over the past year or so. Its Allston, MA, drug plant shut down last June after a virus was discovered in one of its bioreactors there, causing shortages of its two best-selling drugs. This spring the FDA whacked Genzyme with $175 million fine for deficient operations for filling drug vials in Allston, and the company faces further hefty fines if it doesn’t meet certain deadlines for moving those filling operations from Allston to other facilities. And persistent shortages of its key products made in Allston have caused a dip in sales, prompting Genzyme to forecast its 2010 annual revenue to be $4.4 billion, down from $4.5 billion last year.

Still, Genzyme has more products in its pipeline that could help increase its upside. The company is in late-stage testing of alemtuzumab (Campath) for multiple sclerosis, which the company has characterized as its most important development program. Plus, it’s also got a diverse range of products for the cancer, renal health, and diagnostics markets, to name a few.

So what’s all this worth in your estimation? Give us your best guess of Genzyme’s potential sale price below, and we’ll post later this week to reveal what our readers think the biotech giant would fetch in a buyout deal.

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