Jump on in, the water's fine
Name: Bob Hugin
Title: CEO, Celgene
A few weeks ago, when Celgene ($CELG) put out its numbers for 2014, the biotech noted that R&D expenses had jumped from $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion. That was a footnote in the industry news for the day, but the jump--largely driven by an increase in clinical trial costs offset somewhat by a less frenetic pursuit of deals tied to big upfronts--underscores why Bob Hugin is back on the list this year.
Hugin clearly relishes the opportunity that Celgene's blockbuster Revlimid has provided, as the cash cow continues to fuel one of the most ambitious biotechs in the business. He also hasn't been shy about professing a taste for utilizing a muscular dealmaking arm that has achieved a landmark reputation for creatively matching Celgene with some of the most innovative biotechs around the world.
Celgene created the benchmark for best-in-class industry collaborations. And that says a lot.
While growing sales for Abraxane, Celgene's newer drugs like Pomalyst and Otezla have begun to make their mark, allowing for an aggressive set of revenue growth projections. By 2017, he's vowed to double revenues in four years. And on Wall Street, his rep provides some real credibility with investors.
In setting this course, Hugin has proved influential in burnishing the industry's go-go spirit in boom times, accelerating a speed-up in biotech R&D that has proven infectious. While Big Pharma continues to struggle mightily with getting its R&D operations in order, a company like Celgene gets kudos for taking a leadership role in cancer--positioned to pursue new growth instead of grappling with big losses and uncertainty about the lack of innovation in its pipeline.
For a company like Celgene, that means that the market cap can swell to $94.2 billion, while aging pharmas like Eli Lilly ($LLY) are lucky to be at $74 billion.
"The whole industry is on fire," Hugin said at JP Morgan in San Francisco. That may not be a permanent state of affairs--bull markets come and go--but Hugin helped light a match that has fired up an industry.
-- John Carroll (email | Twitter)
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