Novo Nordisk Just Gave Investors $16.5 Billion More Reasons to Get Excited

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) just made the headlines for something other than Ozempic. Well, sort of. One of the company’s subsidiaries, Novo Holdings, is responsible for deploying capital in a mission-driven, efficient way to help broaden Novo Nordisk’s reach.

Earlier this week, Novo Holdings announced it was acquiring Catalent for a total enterprise value of $16.5 billion. Let’s break down the deal and analyze why this transaction could be a game changer for Novo Nordisk in the long run.

What did Novo Nordisk just do?

Catalent is a subcontractor for drug developers. Essentially, Catalent helps fulfill demand for treatments such as Ozempic and Wegovy at their various manufacturing facilities.

Per the terms of the deal, Novo Holdings will be acquiring Catalent in an all-cash transaction. Subsequently, Novo Holdings will sell three of Catalent’s facilities to its parent, Novo Nordisk.

Given that Novo Nordisk is a pharmaceutical company, some investors may be wondering why the company is pursuing manufacturing facilities instead of doubling down on marketing campaigns or research and development (R&D).

Image source: Getty Images

Why is this important?

On the surface, it may look like Novo Nordisk is cruising. After all, in 2023, sales in its diabetes and obesity segments grew 52% and 154%, respectively. This growth has been driven mostly by the popularity of its semaglutide treatments, Ozempic, Rybelsus, and Wegovy.

However, one important thing investors should know is that even in the face of unprecedented growth, Novo Nordisk is having some issues fulfilling demand. The company is investing heavily in manufacturing output in an effort to mitigate any supply bottlenecks it’s experiencing.

During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen stated, “In 2024, our focus will be on the continued significant expansion of our production capacity, reaching more patients and progressing the expanding pipeline.”

Given the company’s earnings report was published about a week ago, it didn’t take long for investors to get a preview of what Novo Nordisk is doing to ratchet up its supply fulfillment operations.

What could it mean in the long term?

For a few reasons, this deal makes sense and is a savvy move on behalf of Novo Nordisk’s management. First, demand for Ozempic and Wegovy is off the charts. Each medication is rising in popularity here in the U.S. and abroad in Europe. Per the deal with Catalent, Novo Nordisk will take control of three manufacturing sites in Belgium, Italy, and Indiana.

Another reason the Catalent acquisition is important is that it should help Novo Nordisk curtail supply constraints in the near and long term. Given the robust outlook of the weight-loss market over the next several years, management is clearly looking to hedge any risk that could come with a challenged supply operation.

Perhaps the most important detail surrounding the Catalent deal is that it is not expected to close until the end of 2024. So, it’s unlikely that the synergies that can come from deeper manufacturing throughput will make a material impact on Novo Nordisk’s overall business this year. However, the long-term potential of the deal should not be discounted.

By bolstering its manufacturing output, Novo Nordisk is not just augmenting its ability to meet demand for Wegovy and Ozempic. Rather, this is a calculated chess move to help set the company up for the development of future blockbuster drugs.

This is a clear sign that management is playing the long game and is not only confident about the potential of its diabetes and obesity treatments but also planning on further gains beyond these markets. To me, this deal is a smart move and only further strengthens my bullish outlook on Novo Nordisk.

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Adam Spatacco has positions in Novo Nordisk. The Motley Fool recommends Novo Nordisk. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Novo Nordisk Just Gave Investors $16.5 Billion More Reasons to Get Excited was originally published by The Motley Fool