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By far, the biggest new position picked up by institutions has been
AbbVie(ABBV). That's not surprising; after all, the $67 billion pharma firm only spun off from
Abbott Labs(ABT) early this year. Between new purchases and distributions for firms that already owned ABT, funds added 97.2 million shares of ABBV to their portfolios in the first quarter. That's a $4 billion position at current price levels.
AbbVie is a direct play on Abbott's legacy pharmaceutical business. The firm may as well have been named Humira -- the immunology drug represents around half of the firm's total sales, making ABBV highly dependent on its patent until it expires in 2016. That's enough lead time, however, for AbbVie to develop a more mature drug pipeline with more diversification and less reliance on a single blockbuster drug.
In the meantime, AbbVie is going to be raking in the cash with a well-defended high margin pharmaceutical product. Some of that cash will go toward building that pipeline, while another chunk will go to pay investors what amounts to a 3.77% dividend yield. With a reasonable net debt position (ABBV's cash covers around half of its current debt load) and a few attractive names in its pipeline, investors could do worse than to follow funds into this "old" company with a new name.
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