NVO

Novo Nordisk Bets Up to $600 Million on Ozempic 2.0. Here's Why the Stock Is a Buy.

Ozempic, Ozempic, Ozempic. As we all know, Novo Nordisk's (NYSE: NVO) highly successful drug for type 2 diabetes is grabbing headlines, shrinking waistlines and enriching investors.

And thanks to a big investment in a new development partnership, there could be plenty more opportunity ahead for Novo Nordisk, with at least one sequel to Ozempic on the way to keep shareholders feeling full.

Here's why that's yet another piece of evidence supporting the investment thesis for buying this stock and holding it for years.

This collaboration could be a game changer

Novo Nordisk's latest drug development deal is with Metaphore Biotechnologies, a privately held business owned by the highly influential venture capital group Flagship Pioneering. Under the terms of the agreement, Novo Nordisk is responsible for as much as $600 million in up-front payments, milestone fees, and potential royalties. And it will repay any research and development (R&D) costs while having the opportunity to invest directly in Metaphore if it does another financing round.

The goal of the agreement is to co-develop at least one new therapy for obesity. While Ozempic is technically only indicated to treat type 2 diabetes, with its sister drug Wegovy being the one that's formally indicated for obesity, the two products are the same molecule, called semaglutide.

So, although it is not guaranteed that the collaboration will yield a similarly multi-functional molecule that can be turned into multiple medicines, the probability of any new therapies also being useful for other cardio-metabolic indications (risk factors for heart attack and stroke like cholesterol and hypertension) besides obesity is very high.

In fact, Metaphore's approach with the collaboration is to use its platform to develop a candidate targeting the same cellular receptor used by semaglutide, perhaps in addition to other closely related targets. Its platform is unique because it uses machine learning to calculate the structure of hypothetical molecules with fine-tuned effects on the intended physiological target.

Thus, it might be possible to create a new therapy that's dramatically more effective, longer lasting, and with fewer side effects than Ozempic.

When combined with slightly less sophisticated but still cutting-edge drug development techniques, like designing molecules that can affect more than one target at once, it is also possible that a therapy of superlative quality could result. It could make Novo Nordisk an even more formidable competitor in the obesity market.

Sure, such an outcome is still very far off -- if it happens at all -- but it's on the table, and it's a unique opportunity since Metaphore's approach is novel. And that's one more reason to buy this stock.

Every new initiative carries some risk

There is, of course, a chance that the collaboration with Metaphore does not live up to the promise. The programs could fail in clinical trials for a variety of reasons, and in that case, Novo Nordisk would be in the hole for the money it committed. But that still wouldn't detract from the bull thesis for the stock.

Novo Nordisk's trailing-12-month net income rose by 82% over the last three years, reaching nearly $13 billion. Its GLP-1 drugs, including Ozempic and Wegovy, grew by 30% as a segment year-over-year in the first quarter, driving the company's overall growth.

The markets for obesity and type 2 diabetes medicines are nowhere near being tapped out, and the business continues to make major investments in expanding its manufacturing capacity to serve as much of the available demand as possible.

Its pipeline is overflowing with follow-on programs seeking to expand the approved indications for semaglutide, many of which are in late-stage development. And it also makes a plethora of perpetually in-demand therapies, including insulin.

This company is going to keep growing for the foreseeable future. The possibility of coming out with Ozempic 2.0 is just one part of that bright future.

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Alex Carchidi has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Novo Nordisk. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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