As you face an extraordinarily volatile market bedeviled by risks at home and abroad, remember this truism: The surest way to profit over the long haul is to invest in companies that provide essential products that people can't live without.
And what's more essential than human blood?
Which brings us to China Biologic Products (CBPO) , a little-known Beijing-based biotech company that dominates the development and sale of plasma-based drug treatments in China, a country of 1.4 billion red-blooded people who require increasing levels of health care.
And yet, in a field that tends to be the province of "Big Pharma," China Biologic is a mid-cap firm, with a market value of $2.9 billion. The stock has soared by nearly 70% year to date, but as I'll explain below, there's still plenty of room for shares to appreciate. Now's the time to scoop up China Biologic, while it's trading at a bargain price.
As graying populations require greater medical attention, demand for plasma-based drugs is booming. The most promising play on this trend is China Biologic, one of China's largest non-state-owned plasma biopharmaceutical companies. This company will remain on a stable long-term footing, even if China's stock market temporarily stumbles again.
China Biologic stock has risen by 22.7% over the past four weeks alone, but earnings estimates have risen as well. China Biologic is scheduled to issue its third-quarter 2015 operational results on Tuesday. Analysts expect earnings per share of 81 cents on revenue of $75.3 million.
In the second quarter, the company reported EPS of $1.06, a 29% year-over-year increase that beat the consensus estimate by 19 cents. The business earned $79.1 million during the second quarter, compared with analysts' estimates of $71.7 million. The firm's second-quarter revenue was up 31.6% on a year-over-year basis.
China Biologic is a fully integrated company involved in the research, development and marketing of plasma treatments. With more than 1,400 employees, the company manufactures more than 20 plasma products through its majority-owned subsidiaries.
The principal building block for everything the company makes is blood plasma, which is the pale-yellow fluid part of blood in which corpuscles are suspended. Plasma accounts for about 55% of total blood volume and acts as the "glue" for blood cells by holding them in suspension.
China Biologic's chief products are based on either human albumin or immunoglobulin. Human albumin, the chief protein in plasma, is used to stabilize critically ill or injured patients by replenishing lost fluid and maintaining sufficient blood volume and pressure. Immunoglobulin is used to boost immunity against certain diseases and disorders.
China Biologic controls 15% of plasma product sales in China, making it the country's sales leader. The company is able to generate a steady supply of plasma, the raw material for its products, through a network of government-authorized collection stations. These stations pay healthy donors for the plasma that's needed by the company's scientists and engineers to create treatments.
China Biologic's plasma-based products are crucial in the treatment of traumatic injuries and chronic diseases. The company sells its treatments primarily to hospitals and inoculation centers through its own distribution network. About 70% of sales are made directly to hospitals.
According to BCC Research, global sales of all blood products increased to almost $30.2 billion in 2014 and are expected to grow to nearly $38.3 billion in 2019. The largest driver of demand is the aging of populations in developed and developing markets. Meanwhile, the bitter trademark battle now raging between biotech blood-testing start-up Theranos and medical equipment maker Becton, Dickinson (BDX) reflects the fiercely competitive nature of any field related to human blood.
Two pharmaceutical giants dominate the global plasma market: U.S.-based Baxter International and Spain-based Grifols. However, the Chinese government only allows Baxter and Grifols to sell human albumin products in China, leaving much of the playing field to China Biologic. Consequently, China Biologic is the plasma product sales leader in China, a country that accounts for a salient share of the global market.
China Biologic's opportunity for growth in China is enormous. The country accounts for 20% of the world's population but only 1.5% of the global pharmaceutical market. Rising incomes are leading to greater expectations among the Chinese for the latest health care treatments.
At the same time, a growing middle class in China is generating a Western-style lifestyle that increases the incidence of diseases and illnesses, a trend that in turn is boosting demand for greater spending on pharmaceuticals and sophisticated biotech treatments.
China is the second-largest pharmaceutical market in the world but it's drawing closer to America's drug market, which remains No. 1 and is expected to hit $475 billion in 2020. The Middle Kingdom's elderly population will reach about 1.41 billion in 2020, accounting for nearly 20% of China's total population.
China Biologic maintains a robust research & development budget to continually find and develop new innovations in blood plasma treatments and compounds.
All of these factors have helped propel the company's stock price this year, but it's still trading at an appealing entry point. The stock's trailing-12-month price-to-earnings ratio is only about 36.6 compared to a P/E of 45.4 for the health care sector and a whopping 201 for biotechnology. As you search for growth plays in an overvalued and turbulent market, this mid-cap company is a relatively inexpensive way to inject lifeblood into your portfolio.
This China-based biotech isn't the only hidden gem in today's overvalued market. Looking for small-cap tech plays with enormous upside? Click here.