3 Reasons To Buy Gilead

The Power Factors System is the backbone of my research service, The Data Driven Investor. It’s essentially a quantitative ranking system that selects stocks based on three powerful and time-proven return drivers: financial quality, valuation, and momentum.

Multiple academic studies have proven that companies exhibiting strong numbers in these three areas tend to beat the market in the long term, and my own backtesting work confirms that the Power Factors Systems can generate impressive performance over time.

The specific details behind the system are not particularly important, the main idea is using a combination of indicators and ratios to select companies with strong metrics in these main areas. Among others, the Power Factors System includes the following metrics:

  • Financial quality: the system looks for companies with superior profitability on sales, considering ratios such as gross profit margin and free cash flow margin. In addition, financial quality includes metrics based on return on capital, such as return on investment and return on assets.
  • Valuation: this covers classical valuation ratios like price to earnings, and price to free cash flow, among several other metrics based on similar concepts.
  • Momentum: the system picks companies that are outperforming expectations, and it also looks for stocks that are doing better than the broad market. In a nutshell, we want companies that are delivering performance numbers above Wall Street forecasts, and we also want the stock price to be reflecting such outperformance.

An equally-weighted portfolio comprised of the 50 best-ranking companies in the system produced an impressive annual return of 26.39% since 1999. By comparison, the S&P 500 produced a far more modest return of 3.77% per year over the same period.

In other words, a $ 100,000 position in the S&P 500 back in 1999 would currently be worth nearly $ 199,100, while the same amount of money invested in the Power Factors portfolio would be worth an exponentially larger sum of $ 7.8 million.

Data and chart are from Portfolio123, and the full list of companies in the system is available to subscribers in The Data Driven Investor.

The ranking system is based on a stock universe that excludes over-the-counter stocks in order to guarantee a minimum size and liquidity levels. Nevertheless, most stocks in the system are relatively smaller than those in the S&P 500, and in many cases far more volatile.

Interestingly, Gilead (GILD) is a noteworthy exception. The company has a market capitalization value of more than $ 109.6 billion, and it ranks remarkably well across the three dimensions in the Power Factors System. These particularities make of Gilead a particularly intriguing name among the stocks selected by the quantitative model.

Case Study: Gilead

Gilead is a leading player in the biotech space. The company is focused on life-threatening infectious diseases, with a big presence in treatments for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Gilead has made a series of acquisitions to expand its portfolio in cardiovascular diseases and Cancer over the past several years. More recently, the company made a big move with the acquisition of Kite Pharma (KITE) for $ 11.9 billion in cash. This deal could provide a big boost to Gilead in cell therapy and oncology treatments.

The business is under pressure due to lower sales and increasing competition in Hepatitis C (HVC) products.

On the other hand, Gilead has a promising pipeline of new developments across different areas, and this should drive increased revenue growth over the years ahead.

Importantly, the company has an impressive track record of financial performance over the long term, and profitability levels are considerably above-average. The following table compares key financial metrics for Gilead vs. other big biotech companies, such as Amgen (OTC:AMGM), Celgene (CELG), and Biogen (IBB).

5 Year Sales Growth.

Return on Assets (ROA)

Return on Investment (ROI)

Operating Margin

Net Margin

























The numbers are quite clear, Gilead ranks above the competition across all of the five indicators: sales growth over the past five years, return on assets, return on investment, operating margin, and net margin.

Financial performance over the years ahead will depend on variables such as demand for Gilead’s new products, and this is always a source of uncertainty. Nevertheless, the company’s track-record and current performance are a positive reflection on its management team and its ability to deliver attractive returns for shareholders.

In terms of valuation, Gilead stock is fairly conveniently priced, if not downright undervalued. The stock trades at a price to earnings ratio around 9.15 times earnings over the past year. This is a huge discount versus the average company in the S&P 500, which trades at a price to earnings ratio around 21.5.

Looking at valuation ratios in comparison to industry peers, Gilead also looks quite cheap in terms of price to earnings, forward price to earnings, price to free cash flow, and price to sales.


Forward P/E























Offering a similar perspective, the following chart shows how Gilead’s valuation has evolved over the past several years, and current entry price looks quite compelling by historical standards in terms of price to earnings, price to free cash flow, and enterprise value to EBITDA.

ChartGILD PE Ratio (ttm) data by YCharts

The bottom line is that Gilead stock is substantially cheap, be it in comparison to the broad market, when compared to industry peers, or by the company’s own historical standards.

Momentum is favoring the bulls. Both revenue and earnings came in above Wall Street expectations last quarter, and analysts are adjusting their earnings forecasts to the upside. The average earnings estimate for Gilead in 2017 was $ 8.35 per share 90 days ago, and it has steadily increased towards $ 8.78 currently.

Stock prices don’t just reflect fundamentals, expectations about those fundamentals are tremendously important. When expectations are on the rise, this generally means that stock prices are rising too. On the back of increasing earnings forecasts, Gilead stock has substantially outperformed the S&P 500 index over the past several months.

ChartGILD data by YCharts

Past performance does not guarantee future returns. However, profitability metrics, valuation, and momentum are all positive forces for investors in Gilead on a forward-looking basis.

Disclosure: I am/we are long GILD.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


Why We Need To Design Work To Feel Like An Experience And Not Like A Transaction

Do you or your employees show up at work expecting an experience or a transaction? You probably don’t think about it that way, but subconsciously it can have a big effect on your overall job satisfaction and performance. A transaction is simple: you pay either time or money in exchange for something else, like a new pair or shoes or a loaf of bread. With an experience, you offer something up but don’t get anything physical in return–what you purchase is something to do and feel, like skydiving, eating a great meal, or camping.

Psychologist Tom Gilovich, who I interviewed for my latest book on employee experience, did a study on how satisfaction changes over time when you spend money on a physical item versus an experience. He found that if you spend money on a tangible item, over time your satisfaction goes down. However, if you spend that money on an experience, over time your satisfaction goes up.

But how does this apply to the workplace? We can also view relationships like transactions or experiences. Often times, we fall into the trap of making everything transactional: I’ll do something for you if you give me something else. At work, that can translate to showing up and getting your work done just to secure a paycheck. It tends to be less authentic, personal, and sincere, with employees not really putting the effort in to build relationships because they are only there for the money. According to Dr. Gilovich’s study, this leads to job satisfaction going down over time. That makes sense–if work is a transaction, there isn’t a true connection between the employee and the organization and its culture, so that sense of belonging, purpose, and satisfaction isn’t there. This happens a lot with new employees at an organization who start with a high level of satisfaction that wanes over time. Employees likely end up with the same feeling they would get if they bought something from an anonymous user on eBay: happy with what they got from the transaction but not filled with a lasting relationship or happiness. Over time, it can lead to resentment towards the company and a lower quality of work produced.

On the flip side, viewing work as an experience tends to lead to high levels of satisfaction and much more engaged employees. If employees view their time with an organization as an experience, they will put more effort into their work and relationships. After all, if you purchase a trip around the world, you’ll want to show up to get the most out of it. Experiences grow and change over time and leave employees with changed feelings, growth opportunities, and new emotions over time. That leads to increased satisfaction over time as the employee grows in the organization and become more connected to the company. With an experience, both sides have to put in effort, and the results can last much longer. Experiences tend to stick around longer than transactions and can lead to more personal growth and development. While items purchased can break and go out of style, experiences tend to stick with us and can lead to more engagement, just like the feeling you get looking back at an experience like a trip or time with friends.

Consider how you view your time at work–is it a transaction where you show up for a paycheck, or is it an experience where you grow and learn? What can your organization do to foster an experiential attitude that facilitates growth instead of turning work into a transactional daily grind? Changing the attitude of the company and the employees can have a big impact.