Best Weight-Loss Stocks for 2024

With 70% of people in the US and about half the people in Europe overweight, it’s no wonder that a new class of weight-loss drugs that beats older treatments in safety and efficacy has taken the world by storm, generating billions of dollars for drugmakers.

The shares of two companies, Novo Nordisk, which produces the Hollywood-endorsed Ozempic, and Eli Lilly, the maker of another blockbuster, Zepbound, have soared. These new type of anti-obesity drugs, known as GLP-1 agonists, work by mimicking a gut hormone to reduce appetite. 

With the World Obesity Federation estimating that more than four billion people, more than half the world’s population, is likely to be obese by 2035, they are not the only companies to benefit. The global weight-loss drug market will swell to $82.8 billion by 2032 from just $1.9 billion in 2022, growing at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 45.7%, DataHorizon Research estimates. In this guide, we feature eight stocks that could be the winners of this trend.

Best Anti-Obesity Stocks to Buy in 2024

Here are the eight best weight-loss stocks in our view to consider for your portfolio:

  1. Novo Nordisk: The Danish drugmaker’s revenue has been driven by Ozempic, the diabetes drug people have been using off label to lose weight, and Wegovy, its dedicated weight-loss drug. 
  2. Eli Lilly: The US drugmaker is raking in revenue from two obesity/diabetes drugs, Mounjaro and Zepbound, both injectable GLP-1 agonists. Lilly has a huge pipeline beyond weight-loss therapies.
  3. Amgen: The US-based biotech firm released results for its obesity drug MariTide in February that showed participants in a phase 1 trial lost weight and kept it off for five months after their last dose.
  4. Pfizer: The large-cap halted trials of its lead anti-obesity candidate, danuglipron, because of concerns about its side effects, but it has another weight-loss therapy, PF-07976016, in a phase 1 trial.
  5. Roche: The Swiss drugmaker jumped into the anti-obesity fray with its recent $2.7 billion purchase of Carmody Therapeutics, whose lead drug candidate is a once-weekly injection called CT-388.
  6. Gerresheimer: The German small-cap is a pick-and-shovel anti-obesity play. It makes packaging for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics companies, including products to deliver GLP-1 drugs, as well as for other therapies. 
  7. Rhythm Pharmaceuticals: The small-cap drugmaker has one approved anti-obesity therapy, Imcivree, and others in late-stage trials. It has seen a big boost in revenue, though it isn’t profitable yet.
  8. Viking Therapeutics: The clinical-stage biotech firm has an anti-obesity drug, VK2735, which is a dual GLP-1/GIP receptor agonist that has shown promising results in a phase 2 trial.

A Closer Look at the Top Anti-Obesity Stocks to Invest in

Now, let’s examine in more detail the top weight-loss stocks available to investors in 2024:

1. Novo Nordisk – Record Revenue Lifted by Ozempic 

A lot of investors were caught off guard by how big Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic and weight-loss drug Wegovy sales were last year. Both use different formulas of the same GLP-1 agonist, semaglutide. The next blockbuster could be IcoSema, a weekly combination of basal insulin icodec and semaglutide that outperformed daily injections of glargine U100 plus aspart insulins in lowering A1C in people with type 2 diabetes.

Novo Nordisk chartThe company had a record year with revenue of DKK 232.6 billion ($33.8 billion), up 31% and EPS of DKK 18.62, up 52%. The big drivers were its diabetes and obesity care therapies. Diabetes sales increased by 52% and obesity care jumped by 147%. It will obviously be hard to keep up that pace of growth, but most analysts predict the stock could easily go higher.

Novo Nordisk forecasts that this year’s sales should grow between 17% to 25%, with operating profit growth expected to be between 20% and 28%. One of the company’s biggest problems is keeping up with demand for its weight-loss therapies. The question is, after such a big gain in the stock’s price, is how much of that projected revenue growth is already factored in.

Ticker  P/E  Dividend Yield
NYSE: NVO 46.07 1.08%

2. Eli Lilly – Zepbound is Just Getting Started

Lilly also posted record annual revenue in 2023. It rose 20% to $34.1 billion, and that was with one of its hit obesity drugs, Zepbound, not being launched until the fourth quarter. Mounjaro, used to treat type 2 diabetes and for weight loss, had sales of $5.1 billion, up from just $482.5 million in sales in 2022. EPS grew by 16% to $5.80.

Eli Lilly chartLilly sees its sales of incretins (metabolic hormones that stimulate a decrease in blood glucose levels), which include Zepbound and Mounjaro, to outpace supply this year. That’s a nice problem to have. The company has five other drugs unrelated to obesity that are blockbusters. Its top seller is type-2 diabetes drug Trulicity, which had revenue of $7.13 billion in 2023, down 4%, though it still enjoys patent protection until 2027.

This year, Eli Lilly is forecasting full-year EPS of between $11.80 and $12.30, up 108% at the midpoint, and revenue of between $40.4 billion and $41.6 billion, up 20.2% at the midpoint. Like Novo Nordisk, the real question is whether the stock has much room to climb as its P/E is crazy high at 132.55. It’s reassuring, though, that Lilly increased its dividend by 15% to $1.13 last year, the sixth consecutive year it has increased it by 15%. 

Ticker  P/E  Dividend Yield
NYSE: LLY 132.55 0.69%

3. Amgen – Anti-Obesity Drug Would Be Icing on the Cake

The company released positive data for its GLP-1 therapy, MariTide, which in early trials showed long-term effectiveness and unlike other GLP-1 drugs, may not have to be taken for life. The big thing to remember is Amgen is a healthy, profitable company without MariTide. It had eight blockbuster therapies (with more than $1 billion in annual sales) in 2023, led by osteoporosis and bone cancer therapy Prolia, with $4.05 billion in revenue. Last fall, it spent $27.8 billion to buy Horizon Therapeutics, known for thyroid eye disease drug Tepezza and gout drug Krystexxa.

Amgen chartThe company reported overall 2023 revenue of $28.19 billion, up 7.09% and EPS of $18.65, up 5.43%. This year, Amgen is forecasting revenue between $32.4 billion to $33.8 billion, up 17.4% at the midpoint and EPS of between $8.42 to $9.87, down substantially, thanks to the expenses connected with the company’s purchase of Horizon Therapeutics.

The company is also that rare biotech that offers a substantial dividend. It has raised its quarterly dividend for 12 consecutive years, including a 5.6% bump this year to $2.25 per share. The yield, at 3.34%, is a little more than twice the S&P 500 average dividend.

Ticker  P/E  Dividend Yield
NASDAQ: AMGN 21.60 3.34%

4. Pfizer – Too Big to Count Out

The company has halted trials for lotiglipron and danuglipron, both oral anti-obesity therapies, because of concerns over side effects. You can’t forget about the company, though, because it has extensive experience developing small molecule therapies. CEO Albert Bourla said Pfizer plans to remain aggressive in developing anti-obesity therapies.

Pfizer chartPfizer suffered a down year in 2023, thanks to declining sales for COVID-19 therapies Comirnaty and Paxlovid. It had $58.5 billion in revenue, down 42%, and EPS of $0.37, down 93%. Late last year, it spent $43 billion to buy Seagen, known for its oncology therapies. This year, the company said it expects revenue of between $58.5 billion and $61.5 billion, up 2.5%, at the midpoint. The company recently reported positive news that Abrysvo, its respiratory syncytial virus vaccine, was able to protect high-risk adults between 18 to 59. Currently, the RSV vaccine is only approved for adults 60 and older and expectant mothers.

Investors who wait for a turnaround can afford to be patient, thanks to Pfizer’s dividend, which it has raised for 15 consecutive years, including a bump of 2.4% this year, delivering a yield of around 6.29%. 

Ticker  P/E  Dividend Yield
NYSE: PFE 74.33 6.29

5. Roche – Buying its Way Into Anti-Obesity Treatments

The company made a big foray into anti-obesity therapies with its December $2.7 billion merger with Carmot Therapeutics. Carmot has three clinical-stage diabetes and obesity therapies, led by CT-388, which is about to enter a Phase 2 trial to treat obesity. 

Roche chartThanks to a rising Swiss franc, Roche saw its revenue and earnings rise slightly at current exchange rates in 2023, despite declining COVID-19-related sales. Revenue was CHF 58.7 billion ($68.1 billion), up 1% at current exchange rates, but down 7% on a reported basis. EPS was CHF 18.57, down 9%, on a reported basis. This year, Roche is predicting sales and EPS growth of 1%. The down year obscures how deep the company’s stable of drugs is, with 15 blockbuster therapies.

Roche has increased its yearly dividend for 19 consecutive years, including a 1% rise 2024 to CHF 9.60 ($10.62), which equals a yield of around 2.64%.

Ticker  P/E  Dividend Yield
OTC: RHHBY 15.43 2.64%

6. Gerresheimer – Best Pick-and-Shovel Anti-Obesity Stock

The German company offers a solution to the supply-side shortages that have plagued Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly because of the demand for their weight-loss products. Both companies have turned to Gerresheimer, which has fully automated production and assembly processes that churn out diagnostic products and medical products.

Gerresheimer chartIn 2023, the company’s revenue rose 9.54% to €1.99 billion ($2.16 billion) and yearly EPS climbed by 0.22% to €4.62. The big driver was the company’s injectables, used for obesity products, but also for cell therapies and for vaccines.

This year, it’s predicting that revenue will grow between 5% and 10%, followed by a 10%-15% gain in 2025. Adjusted EPS was expected to grow between 8% and 12% in 2024, and more than 10% in 2025. On top of that, the company pays out a yearly dividend of €1.25, which equals a yield of around 1.15%. The payout ratio is around 28%, so the dividend is easily sustainable.

Ticker  P/E  Dividend Yield
OTC: GRRMF 30.38 1.15%

7. Rhythm Pharmaceuticals –  Promising Drug, Growing Revenue

The company has plenty of upside, thanks to the early success of Imcivree, approved to treat obesity caused by certain rare genetic conditions. The company is working on extending the drug’s indications to treat other, more common types of obesity. It has other pipeline anti-obesity candidates, led by RM-718, designed to treat congenital hyperinsulinism, a condition that causes individuals to have abnormally high levels of insulin and can cause weight gain.

Rhythm chartIn 2023, the company reported revenue of $77.4 million, up 228%, all due to increased sales of Imcivree. However, the stock remains risky because the company isn’t profitable. It had a loss of $3.20 per share, compared to a loss per share of $3.47 in 2022.

The strong uptake for Imcivree prescriptions makes Rhythm a potential buyout candidate for a larger pharmaceutical company looking for its own stable of anti-obesity therapies. 

Ticker  P/E  Dividend Yield
NASDAQ: RYTM N/A N/A

8. Viking Therapeutics – Promising Oral Weight-Loss Sends Stock Soaring

The company’s stock shot up 120% in one day after it announced promising Phase 2 trial data on VK2735. It’s in the same class of drugs as Ozempic or Wegovy, but VK2735 has an advantage that it’s also being tested in a Phase 1 trial in a pill form, which is easier to take. The rival drugs are injectables.Viking Therapeutics price chart

The company said it will start a Phase 2 trial of VK2735 in a pill form later this year. The drug fared well in a mid-stage trial in March as an injectable.

However, despite that positive news, it’s still a clinical-stage company, with no products yet, so it has no product revenue. Last year, Viking had a loss of  $0.91 per share, slightly more than the $0.90 in EPS that it lost in 2022. However, given that it has $362 million in cash and a promising therapy in a red-hot segment, it remains a solid acquisition candidate.

Ticker  P/E  Dividend Yield
NASDAQ: VKTX N/A N/A

References

https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/anti-obesity-drugs-market-104783

https://investor.lilly.com/static-files/fd0ef78b-4c48-4a15-b65b-8bf9b6ed26d2

https://www.amgen.com/newsroom/press-releases/2023/10/amgen-completes-acquisition-of-horizon-therapeutics-plc

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/pfizer-remain-aggressive-obesity-market-after-setback-2024-01-08/#:~:text=In%20early%20December%2C%20Pfizer%20said,shortfalls%20in%20its%20COVID%20franchise.

https://carmot.us/carmot-therapeutics-enters-into-definitive-merger-agreement-with-roche/

https://www.gerresheimer.com/en/company/newsroom/corporate-news/detail/gerresheimer-decisively-continues-on-profitable-growth-course-in-financial-year-2023

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viking-therapeutics-reports-fourth-quarter-and-year-end-2023-financial-results-and-provides-corporate-update-302056675.html

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Jim Halley
Editor
Jim Halley
Editor

I am an experienced journalist who has also worked as an editor and writer at the Savannah Morning News, Salt Lake Tribune, USA Today, Stars and Stripes, and The Motley Fool. I spent the first half of my career in sports journalism, but in recent years have switched to writing about my other passion, stocks, particularly healthcare, real estate and consumer staples stocks. I've won numerous journalism awards from the Associated Press and state press associations and have been a judge for the Georgia Sportswriters Association. I've written one non-fiction book, Just One More Time, about Georgia Southern football, and…