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Oct. 14, 2013, 10:30 AM
Oct. 11, 2013, 8:29 AM
- Jefferies is out with a few Big Pharma downgrades.
- AstraZeneca (AZN) is cut to Underperform from Hold on "poor base business fundamentals" and an "unlikely" Brilinta turnaround. The stock is now Jefferies' "least preferred European stock."
- Eli Lilly (LLY) is downgraded to Underperform from Hold on "further R&D disappointment in its pipeline as well as the increased strain this will put on future cash flow allocation required to maintain the dividend." Price target cut to $40 from $49.
- Merck (MRK) is cut to Hold from Buy as Jefferies says the magnitude of share repurchases and cost-savings was "less than hoped for." Although MRK may "divest or JV either (or both) its Consumer or Animal Health units, this alone is not reason enough ... to leave the shares on a Buy rating ... considering the pressures on Januvia growth [and] poor R&D productivity."
Oct. 1, 2013, 4:35 PM
- Goldman's Jami Rubin is out with some positive commentary on Merck (MRK) following the company's announcement of a multibillion restructuring.
- "MRK described these moves as proactive although 2013 has clearly been a challenging year of patent cliffs and R&D setbacks," Rubin notes, updating her model to include the projected cost savings.
- Rubin also raises her numbers on MK-3475 and is now "more confident in efficacy across multiple tumor types." MRK released preliminary findings in NSCLC today: Preliminary objective response rate 24% irRC and 21% RECIST 1.1. (full release)
- Goldman's price target is hiked to $54 from $52. Hold rating reiterated.
Oct. 1, 2013, 7:51 AM
- Merck (MRK) announces an initiative to "sharpen its commercial and R&D focus" in order to "better target its resources behind those opportunities that have the potential to deliver the greatest return on investment."
- The company is looking to reduce annual operating expenses by ~$2.5B by the end of 2015 with ~$1B to be realized by the end of next year.
- MRK will cut its workforce by around 8,500 positions — that's in addition to the 7,500 positions the company has already cut.
- The restructuring will cost $2.5-3B, around two-thirds of which will be recognized as cash outlays.
- FY13 non-GAAP guidance reiterated at $3.45-3.55. (PR)
Sep. 26, 2013, 8:04 AM
Sep. 23, 2013, 6:57 PM
- Cubist Pharma (CBST) will join the S&P MidCap 400. The drug developer will replace Smithfield Foods, which is being acquired by China's Shuanghui International.
- SAI's Science Applications spinoff is also joining the MidCap 400, and will do so at the expense of Barnes & Noble (BKS), which is getting sent down to the S&P SmallCap 600. B&N will displace RadiSys (RSYS) in the index.
- SAI is being renamed Leidos Holdings, and will trade in the MidCap 400 under the symbol LDOS. Science Applications will trade under the symbol SAIC.
- Organic macaroni maker Annie's (BNNY) is taking Cubist's spot in the SmallCap 600.
- All changes take place after Thursday's close.
Sep. 23, 2013, 8:25 AM
- The FDA has raised concerns about the operational aspects of a hypersensitivity study that Merck (MRK) carried out for its sugammadex sodium injection for the reversal of neuromuscular blockade, which is used in anesthesiology to relax the muscles during surgery.
- The FDA noted its concerns in a Complete Response Letter to Merck's resubmission of a New Drug Application for sugammadex. The agency canceled the discussion of the treatment at a meeting of an advisory committee in July.
- Merck sells Sugammadex in over 50 countries other than the U.S., with 5M vials having been sold as of June 2013. (PR)
Sep. 16, 2013, 8:47 AM
- Brean starts Endocyte (ECYT) — which rose 7% Friday — at Buy.
- Analyst Gene Mack's $21 target is derived by discounting potential revenue from the Merck-partnered (MRK), folate receptor-targeting cancer treatment vintafolide.
- Mack sees peak worldwide sales of $2B in 2026 and notes that potential sales of vintafolide and its companion diagnostic etarfolatide in ovarian cancer alone add $6 to the discounted revenue model.
Sep. 11, 2013, 3:45 PM
- Despite being approved for people 60 and over for some seven years and for those 50 and older for two years, not enough people are getting Merck's (MRK +0.3%) shingles vaccine Zostavax, according to a study presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
- "This is a potential area where we can do cost avoidance" as shingles costs the health system $1B per year, Bloomberg quotes one Duke University professor as saying.
- Zostavax brought in $651M last year for MRK and has generated $309M in sales this year (as of June).
Sep. 11, 2013, 7:30 AM
Sep. 10, 2013, 8:49 AM
- Celltrion and Hospira (HSP) get final approval from the European Commission for Inflectra.
- The rheumatoid arthritis treatment is a biosimilar of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Merck's (MRK) Remicade ($2B in European sales last year).
- The news marks a biotech milestone: It's Europe's first biosimilar monoclonal antibody therapy.
- HSP will launch the drug "at the earliest opportunity taking into account any relevant patent protection." (PR)
Sep. 9, 2013, 9:28 PM
- The TD Ameritrade Investor Movement Index increased 5.95% to 5.16 in August as markets stumbled, meaning clients continued their pattern of selling the rips and buying the dips - the index previously fell in July as stocks rallied.
- There was no contrarian action in Tesla (TSLA), where clients continued to buy as it gained for the month. Dip-buying was notable, however, in a number of basic material companies, including BP, Kinder Morgan (KMP), and Potash (POT).
- Clients were net sellers in financial names like Bank of America (BAC) and Goldman Sachs (GS), and they faded rallies in Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB). Other popular names sold included Chesapeake Energy (CHK), Merck (MRK), and Qualcomm (QCOM).
Sep. 5, 2013, 1:49 PM
- Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST +2.1%) gains after pricing an increased offering of $700M in senior convertible notes.
- The 2018 offering bears interest at 1.125% a year and the 2020 notes to pay 1.875% a year.
- The notes will be convertible at approximately $82.43 per share, representing a premium of around 32.5% to Thursday's closing price.
Sep. 4, 2013, 5:19 PM
- Merck (MRK) says its Durham site has received FDA clearance to manufacture bulk varicella at its site in Durham, North Carolina.
- The approval enables the site to produce bulk varicella which is used in MRK's vaccines to protect against chickenpox and shingles.
- In 2010, the site was approved to produce finished chickenpox vaccines.
- Over the longer term, the company plans for the site to produce bulk and finished product for other Merck childhood vaccines, and for the shingles vaccines as well.
Sep. 3, 2013, 4:32 PM
- Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST) says it will commence a $600M offering in convertible senior unsecured notes.
- The notes are expected to be issued in two $300M series, with one series maturing in 2018 and the other series maturing in 2020.
- The company also expects to grant the initial purchasers an option to purchase up to an additional $50M of each series.
Sep. 1, 2013, 3:29 AM
- Gilead Sciences (GILD) has asked a judge to rule that its Sofosbuvir hepatitis C drug doesn't infringe patents held by Merck (MRK), which sells a peer medicine called Victrelis. Alternatively, Gilead wants the judge to declare that the IP isn't enforceable.
- Gilead is looking to avoid making payments to Merck after the latter company asked Gilead to license two patents that it says are related to Sofosbuvir, and hand over royalties of 10% on any sales should the treatment be approved. The FDA is due to announce a decision on December 8.
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