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This great value stock is a better bet than Sirius Minerals plc

Whil FTSE 250 mining giant Sirius Minerals (LSE: SXX) could deliver blockbuster returns to patient investors, I am far more compelled by the investment outlook of Indivior (LSE: INDV), whose products tackle opioid addiction.

Its share price detonated to fresh record peaks above 400p last week, investor appetite still bubbling after significant regulatory news from across the Pond late last month. The US Food and Drug Administration is to fast-track Indivior’s new drug application for its revolutionary RBP-6000 formula, the world’s first once-monthly injectable buprenorphine treatment. The approval of this drug could unlock billions of dollars in revenues.

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This is not the only positive news to come out of Indivior in recent weeks, the pharma ace having also hiked its profits guidance for the year in recent sessions.

Thanks to robust market conditions Stateside, still-solid demand for its Suboxone film product, and lower legal and R&D expenses, the company saw net income between January and June detonate 43%, to $153m. Net revenues rose 4% to $553m.

Indivior now expects net income to range between $265m and $285m in 2017, a significant uplift from its prior guidance of $200m to $220m.

The City expects the medicines marvel to record a 9% earnings advance in 2017, leaving it dealing on a forward P/E ratio of 16.6 times. I reckon this is solid value given the vast long-term sales potential of its heroin battler and consequent room for more meaty earnings upgrades further down the line.

Too much risk?

Share pickers may have to wait some time for a possible revenues explosion at Sirius Minerals however, its polyhalite asset on the North Yorkshire Moors not scheduled to produce maiden material until 2021.

It chalked up an operating loss of £14.1min H1, which widened from the £4.7m loss a year earlier. The digger attributed this to a “general increase in group activity following commencement of development.” It ploughed £121m into the project during the six months, of which £48.3m was capital expenditure.

Chief executive Chris Fraser remained upbeat despite the bottom-line slide, and said “the half year has been marked by excellent progress on the development of Woodsmith Mine and associated infrastructure.” The construction process remains on schedule and within budget, Sirius added.

The mining giant deserves applause for the huge strides it has made so far in executing its action plan. It is slowly but steadily putting the necessary production infrastructure in place; has raised boatloads of capital to get the plan off the ground; and its rapidly-expanding sales team has already booked agreements for around 3.6mt of material per year.

But the road to Sirius pulling the first fertiliser out of the ground remains a long and hazardous one. Any construction delays could eat up oodles of cash and result in the loss of massive amounts of revenue, putting extra strain on the company’s balance sheet. There is no guarantee that demand for its POLY4 product will turn out to be as strong as hoped for. And a lot more capital is needed for the development programme to remain on track.

Should everything continue to progress as planned, in five years time I could rue the decision not to invest in Sirius. But given the huge degree of risk thepolyhalite play still commands, I believe sitting on the sidelines is the right course of action for now.

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.