Two Danish drugmakers were the best-performing pharmaceutical stocks in Europe last year, and the Nordic country’s largest company came in fifth. Analysts anticipate all three stocks will stay hot this year.

Here’s why:

  • Genmab A/S: The antibody specialist surged in November on earlier-than-expected U.S. approval of Darzalex, a blood-cancer treatment partnered with Johnson & Johnson. Peak sales for the drug may reach $7 billion, and with a broader collaboration with J&J, the U.S. giant could consider acquiring Genmab, according to Jefferies LLC analysts. Blood-cancer therapies drove big deals last year including AbbVie Inc.’s $21 billion purchase of Pharmacyclics and AstraZeneca Plc’s majority stake in Acerta Pharma BV for $4 billion.

  • Lundbeck A/S: A restructuring plan by new CEO Kaare Schultz, who joined last year from Novo Nordisk, sent the shares soaring in August. U.S. regulators will decide in March whether the company can say its anti-depressant Brintellix improves cognitive functioning. That may give Lundbeck an advantage over competing depression drugs.

  • Novo Nordisk A/S: Europe’s best-performing large-cap stock is benefiting from a focus on diabetes. Novo will start selling its newest potential blockbuster Tresiba in the U.S. after it was approved in September. Analyst estimates show that among peers, only AbbVie Inc. exceeds Novo’s projected sales growth through 2018. As early as this quarter, Novo will release results from a heart-risk trial on Victoza, a key drug. Investors will compare that study with Eli Lilly & Co.’s unprecedented findings on its diabetes pill Jardiance.
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