CSL shares reached an all-time high last week, as the market reacted favourably to news that the blood products supplier is making an acquisition in China.
The stock peaked at $142 a share on Wednesday before ending the week at $139. It has climbed from $97 a share at the end of last year.
CSL announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire 80 per cent of the plasma-derived therapies manufacturer Wuhan Zhong Yuan Rui De Biological Products Co (Ruide) for US$352 million.
The company said the acquisition would give it a strategic presence in the Chinese plasma fractionation market, a position that would complement the leadership position its CSL Behring business has built up as a provider of imported albumin in China.
It said it saw scope to expand Ruide’s plasma collection capabilities and introduce new products into a market that is growing at 15 per cent a year.
Rhett Kessler, the chief investment officer of the Pengana Australian Equities Fund, says CSL is not cheap but it has strong cash flow and conservative accounting policies, which include expensing research and development spending.
Kessler says: “CSL management has underpromised and overdelivered. It has invested ahead of the curve in long-term strategic projects and its products have a reputation for reliability.”
CSL is a global leader in plasma fractionation, which Pengana says is an economically insensitive business.
It has large-scale barriers to entry, which Kessler describes as “a massive moat”.
It is the lowest cost producer in its market globally and its US collection centre network is a “very efficient raw materials source”
CSL’s most recent financial report, for the six months to December last year, shows revenue growing at 18 per cent and net profit up more than 30 per cent.
CSL’s return on equity has been above 40 per cent for the past four years and has only been below 20 per cent once in the past 10 years.
At the release of the December half results, CSL chief executive Paul Perreault said: “CSL has never been better positioned for sustainable growth. As a global technology leader, CSL is driven by its promise to develop innovative medicines and reliably supply them to patients in more than 60 countries.”
In response to last week’s news, The Motley Fool reported: “CSL’s share price may appear expensive but when doesn’t it? We’ve often said the company is the highest quality business on the ASX and paying up for quality is likely to pay off over the long term.
“The company is forecasting 18 per cent to 20 per cent growth in profit for the 2017 financial year.”