Earnings, Deals, Hiring: A Busy Day for Big Pharma

Big Pharma didn't rest Thursday, with Celgene, Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca among the big names reporting earnings. A deal between Stryker and Boston Scientific and Sanofi and BMP Sunstone also made the headlines, as did some hiring from Teva. Bristol-Myers Squibb received the anticipated new approval for one of its cancer drugs. But it was Celgene that led drug stocks higher.


Biotech Celgene (CELG) reported third-quarter earnings that rose 30% and revenue increased 31%, beating analyst expectations, on continued sales growth of its multiple myeloma drug Revlimid -- 43% the past quarter. Further, the Summit, N.J. company raised its 2010 financial projections for the third time this year to well above Wall Street projections. Celgene, Reuters wrote, is the fastest-growing of all the big biotechnology companies. Shares closed over 3.3% higher for the day.

AstraZeneca (AZN) shares didn't fare as well, dropping 1.2% after it reported third-quarter results. The London-based drugmaker's profit fell 27% in the quarter on a legal provision charge and higher restructuring costs, as well as 4% lower sales. Revenue was impacted by generic competition in the U.S. for three medicines, as well as no demand for its swine flu vaccine. And while Astra's generic troubles are just beginning, cholesterol drug Crestor saw a 20% sales growth. Still, the company believes it can achieve full year targets.

Sanofi-Aventis Earnings Beat, Reiterates Genzyme Offer, Buys BMP Sunstone

French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) reported third-quarter adjusted income rose 8.9% in the quarter, beating analysts' estimates on favorable foreign exchange and cost cuts. Sales rose 5.7% as sales of diabetes drug Lantus and a boost from the weaker euro offset 26% lower blood thinner drug Lovenox sales, which were hit by a new generic rival about a month into the quarter. Sanofi also slightly increased its full year guidance after lowering it last quarter.

But the loss of Lovenox sales is just the beginning of Sanofi's patent cliff, which is why it has been pursuing biotech giant and rare disease drugmaker Genzyme (GENZ). The takeover battle, which culminated recently in a hostile takeover bid of $69 a share, or $18.5 billion and in Genzyme's launching a series of forecasts and presentations last week, appears to remain at a standstill. Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher said he "didn't hear anything of substance," reiterating the $69 a share proposal.

Meanwhile, the Paris-based company acquired BMP Sunstone (BJGP) for $520.6 million in cash, or $10 a share -- a 30% premium to BMP Sunstone Wednesday's closing price. Sanofi said the deal will allow it to tap into China's $16.7 billion consumer health care market, the second largest in the world after the U.S. BMP Sunstone had 2009 sales of about $147 million, with almost 60% coming from the consumer health care segment. BJGP shares rallied 28%, and Sanofi shares climbed 1.19%.

Deals, Hiring, FDA Action

Stryker (SYK) announced today it will buyBoston Scientific's (BSX) neurovascular business for $1.5 billion in cash, which includes $100 million of milestone payments. Stryker, which makes orthopedic implants, medical and surgical instruments, said the acquisition will broaden its product offerings. Shares of Stryker fell 1.38%, while BSX shares gained about 1%.

Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) agreed to buy Merck KGaA's women's health unit Théramex for €265 million ($367.8 million). The world's largest generic drugmaker's president and CEO Shlomo Yanai said, Théramex "will accelerate the expansion of our women's health franchise into key growth markets in Europe and around the world and provide an excellent springboard for future sales."

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And following Novartis's (NVS) announcement Wednesday that it will add 300 new jobs and invest $600 million over the next five years to expand its global Research headquarters in Cambridge, Mass, Teva pharmaceuticals USA will create 200 jobs at a distribution facility it plans to open in Northeast Philadelphia, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved a new indication for Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) drug Sprycel for the treatment of a rare blood cancer, called Philadelphia chromosome positive chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia, when it is first diagnosed. The cancer is a slowly progressing blood and bone marrow disease linked to a genetic abnormality. Sprycel was first approved in 2006 to treat adults with CP-CML who were intolerant to prior therapy.