It has been quite a year for both Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk given the boom in weight-loss drugs. Stocks of both pharmaceutical companies have rallied this year. Shares in Eli Lilly are up around 60% year-to-date, while its Danish counterpart Novo Nordisk has seen a gain of around 50%. As investors consider whether to buy either stock — or both — Rahul Ghosh, equity portfolio specialist at investment firm T. Rowe Price (TRP), revealed his favorite. “Our research suggests that Eli Lilly is probably a little bit more down the road in terms of having an oral solution. Not to say that Novo Nordisk won’t get there,” he told CNBC Pro on Nov. 29. “So, it’s really a question of choosing between the best and second best – but by such a small margin.” At present, both Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk offer weight loss treatments. Eli Lilly received approval from the U.S. Food and Administration (FDA) for its tirzepatide weight-loss drug in early November. This means that overweight adults with at least one weight-related condition can now use the drug – marketed as Zepbound – for chronic weight management. Similarly, Novo Nordisk announced last month that its Wegovy weight-loss drug could receive expanded approval from the FDA within six months . Eli Lilly With obesity, or being overweight, being a “common denominator” for health conditions like diabetes, cancer and arthritis, TRP’s Ghosh believes that the “positive impact” of Eli Lilly’s drug extends beyond managing weight to preventing chronic illnesses. He also foresees that reducing people’s weight can eventually bring down healthcare spending in the longer term. “There is a much more broad and positive sector dynamic that the company brings. Eli Lilly is something we’ve known for a while — we certainly like it, but I think people are underappreciating the opportunity,” Ghosh said. According to FactSet, of the 30 analysts covering Eli Lilly, 22 have a buy or overweight rating on the stock at an average target price of $631.67 – giving it around 8% upside potential. German private bank Berenberg recently raised its price target on the U.S. pharmaceutical drug manufacturer to $680 per share from $600. “Eli Lilly (Lilly) has delivered the strongest share price performance in the global large pharma sector [year to date] but we think there are reasons to continue to buy this name into next year,” the analysts wrote in a note to investors. Novo Nordisk Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy recently made headlines for reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 20% in adults with heart disease and obesity. The findings of the trial — which were presented at the 2023 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in November — show that a weight-loss medication can help protect against serious heart problems in obese adults. Citi is bullish on the stock, as it “continues to offer materially higher growth and returns ( > 3x pharma peers), and provides earnings visibility beyond 2035.” “Wegovy commands a 96% share of the GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) obesity market. Over 80% of business comes from patients paying a $25 monthly co-pay, with cash-pay representing 5-10% Rx [medical prescriptions],” the analysts wrote in a Dec 1 note. Some 500,000 people in the U.S. currently take Wegovy and the company stands to gain from an addressable patient population of over 100 million in the U.S. and 700 million globally, the analysts noted. They have a buy rating on the stock at a target price of 815 Danish krone ($118.39) – giving Novo over 17% upside. Of the 28 analysts covering the stock, 16 have a buy or overweight rating with an average price target of 729.28 Danish krone, according to FactSet. Both? Aside from Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, Pfizer and AstraZeneca are also developing weight-loss drugs. However, the former two remain “leaders in the market,” says Elizabeth Field, head of European pharmaceutical research at Barclays. “We think it’s really going to stay that way for a while. And so, really, for 2024, it’s all about how fast can these companies make the drugs because demand is there,” she told Squawk Box on Nov. 24 . “What’s really worked across all global pharma this year is owning Novo and Lilly because it’s been a difficult space kind of sector-wide.” — CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.