NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The year is halfway over, so it's a good time to look back and give mid-term grades on my fearless 2014 predictions.
Prediction: "The launch of Gilead Sciences' (GILD) hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir will be tremendously strong in early 2014, propelling the company's market value past Merck (MRK). However, sofosbuvir's sales growth will slow later in the year, raising investor concerns about the sustainability of Gilead's hepatitis C drug franchise. Gilead will close 2014 basically unchanged but still squeaking out a 4.79% gain."
Grade: A-. I was certainly accurate with the strength of the Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) launch and the slowing growth we're seeing now due to patient warehousing. I was also right that the main concern weighing on Gilead would be the sustainability of its hepatitis C sales, although I got the timing a bit wrong.
Prediction: "Merck will be the best-performing Big Pharma company of 2014. Investors will flock to Merck because of the company's commitment to shareholder friendly actions, positive data from its immuno-oncology franchise and BACE inhibitor, and stabilization of its Januvia franchise. Merck will end the year up 17.47%."
Grade: B. Merck is having a strong year but among large-cap pharma, the stock performance of Eli Lily (LLY) and AstraZeneca (AZN) have been equal or better (the latter on the back of the unsuccessful Pfizer (PFE) takeover bid.) Merck is up around 20% in the first half of the year, which is pretty good for a mega-cap pharma stock. I take a slight hit on my prediction because the vast bulk of this move is immuno-oncology related and it is already past my year-end target.