M&A Bonanza For Drug & Biotech in 2011 (MRK, PFE, ALXN, DNDN, HGSI, CEPH, UTHR, CADX, AMAG, SNY, GENZ, AMGN, BEC, TEVA, SGMO, LLY, ALTH, CBST, VVUS, AUXL, VRTX)
The game of predicting mergers and acquisitions in the biotech and in pharma sectors is not a new one. The talk heats up, then it dies down. A deal comes, followed by another deal, and the activity goes quiet. This next week is likely to have at least more chatter in the biohealth sector for possible mergers and acquisitions after Barron’s gave a cover story called “The New Doctor in the House: Consolidation.”
Barron’s noted that “as big drug firms buy up smaller, specialty outfits and their most innovative products, better pipelines and sales-force efficiency will boost profits.” Here is the thing to consider: Barron’s did not really offer anything new or ground-breaking this weekend. It will have rekindled some hope that M&A is coming in the space. At issue: pipeline fatigue. A note we’d throw in as well, dead-dead stocks. We are going to at least address some of the Barron’s roster, but we want to show you many others which are just as or even more likely acquisition targets. Some of ours have even been in-play before.
Barron’s threw in Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) and Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE: PFE) as the largest of the Big Pharma players and it threw out biohealth names with stock-market values below $10 billion:
- Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXN) with a $7.5 billion value after a hueg run-up;
- Dendreon Corporation (NASDAQ: DNDN) for Provenge for prostate cancer (and future cancers) with a $5 billion market value today;
- Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI) for its Benlysta in patients with severe active lupus nephritis and CNS lupus and a $4.5 billion market cap;
- Cephalon, Inc. (NASDAQ: CEPH) is one we have rarely looked as since things quieted down there;
- United Therapeutics Corporation (NASDAQ: UTHR) for its treat pulmonary arterial hypertension and an almost-$4 billion value;
- Cadence Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CADX) was noted for its pain medication without the addiction aspects of morphine and its value is only $369 million;
- AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAG) was called a value stock despite its recent weak sales and despite its cash burn with a $368 million market cap.
Much of the biotech M&A game hinges on Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) in its chase to acquire Genzyme Corporation (NASDAQ: GENZ). The latest talk is that a work-out could come to $80 all-in if certain milestones were achieved but the deal is still south of there officially. As noted above, we have our own opinions on which biotech companies and drug companies could find their way into the hands of a larger acquirer.
Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) is likely to continue being an acquirer. The company recently announced a deal worth potentially $1 billion to acquire privately-held BioVex. Last year the company said it was aggressively looking for new targets and its $52 billion market cap is the largest of all the independent biotechs in America. The company has more tricks up its sleeve.
Beckman Coulter Inc. (NYSE: BEC) went into play in early December with private equity firms being the likely acquirers of the portfolio of biomedical testing equipment and supplies. We argued at the time of the premium that it seemed shares fully reflected that value, and shares are actually lower now.
And don’t forget Sangamo Biosciences Inc. (NASDAQ: SGMO), where shares rallied in November on rumors of a potential bid interest from Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY). It had good news on ZFP Therapeutic program to develop SB-509, a zinc finger protein transcriptional activator (ZFP-TF) of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A gene as a treatment for ALS and the news flow has continued to propel shares higher. It went above $4.50 on the rumors but now shares trade at $7.39. The market cap is still low here at $334 million.
Allos Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ALTH) has been another name floated out there for M&A possibilities, but things are looking less and less bright for the company. Shares hit a 52-week low just on Friday.
Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CBST) has not really gone anywhere as it is deemed a mature company, but it is one we thought for sure that would find its way into being part of a larger company. Its Cubicin is on the market and it fights severe hospital-induced infections and the market cap is $1.3 billion here.
VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) remains a wild card due to the FDA. Diet and weight-loss pills have not been given any real love by the FDA. The exception here is that Qnexa does have serious benefits. There are side effects, particularly in cases of pregnancy. We would ask this though: How many pregnant and soon-to-be-pregnant women really diet? Most doctors don’t even want pregnant women taking supplements, let alone drugs. IF the FDA approves Qnexa, that $680 million market cap may be worth far more.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (NASDAQ: TEVA)… We have also noted Teva’s mega-cap ambitions, and making more acquisitions would generally get there.
Last year, Morningstar put out a list of three favorites that it sees as acquisition targets in the biohealth space: Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AUXL), Human Genome Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: HGSI), and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: VRTX). FULL ARTICLE
This should at least give you a better and more concise list of possible deals and deal-makers for 2011. Just remember this, regardless of what Barron’s or other media outlets try to tell you: not all biotechs have to be acquired, not at all.
JON C. OGG
AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAG) has had a very tough week, whether it was a market with a bad trading tape or not. The stock’s weakness was after an analyst from a relatively unknown firm called Summer Street downgraded the stock to Neutral from Buy over concerns that Feraheme patients are being hospitalized with severe allergic reaction events. Shares were above $45.00 on Wednesday, yet the stock went as low as $35 today before word that a rebuttal was coming. Then after the close, the company is out defending itself showing that the risks here are very low and may not be any different than previously thought.
After the close of trading today, the maker of treatments for anemia and imaging agents provided a safety update on Feraheme®. The company noted, “Since the commercial launch of Feraheme in July 2009, serious adverse events have been reported at a rate consistent with that contained in the U.S. package insert. Of the estimated 35,000 patient exposures to date, 40 serious adverse events have been reported, an approximate rate of 0.1 percent. No mortality signal has been observed. A single reported death occurred in a patient two days post-Feraheme treatment, which the Company does not believe was the result of Feraheme.”
Shares closed down 0.9% at $37.77 today, and shares are now up 5% at $39.75 in the after-hours trading session. Including the after-hours trading this one has traded 4.6 million shares today versus an average volume of 630,000 shares.
The drop today was not with as much volume as the stock traded over 8.5 million shares on Thursday. The 52-week range is $22.20 to $58.23 and the market cap here is $647 million as of the closing price.
JON C. OGG
AMAG Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AMAG) provided an update on the commercial launch of Feraheme (ferumoxytol) Injection for intravenous (IV) use, including preliminary fourth quarter 2009 Feraheme net product revenues estimates, as well as an update on the Company’s international and label expansion efforts.
According to the AP, the figures exceeded Wall St. forecasts. Shares rose 19% to $48.17
Douglas A. McIntyre
AMAG Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAG) are up about 6 percent with more than 17,000 shares traded as of 8 a.m. Eastern this morning, after the FDA approved the company’s Feraheme drug as an iron replacement therapy for patients with chronic kidney disease.
The approval removes an overhang for the company. It first sought FDA approval for the drug in December 2007, and twice received requests for more information on it last year.
Myriad Genetics (Nasdaq: MYGN) shares are down more than 15 percent on very strong premarket trading volume early this morning. The company last night said it expects fiscal Q4 revenue of $86 million, shy of the $91.6 million analysts had anticipated, citing high unemployment and patients cancelling or delaying doctor visits.
Several analysis firms including Oppenheimer and RBC Capital have downgraded the company’s shares this morning, with several citing worries about revenue growth rates.
Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SPPI) Inc. shares are down roughly 8 percent on nearly 60,000 shares traded as of 8:15 a.m. Eastern. The company announced early this morning that it will raise $21 million from institutional investors at $7.15 a share. The stock had been trading near $7.65 a share.
Shares of vaccine maker Novavax Inc. (Nasdaq: NVAX) are up very slightly in premarket trading, seeing some continued buying a day after Spanish health authorities licensed its technologies to make pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines.
The stock had risen more than 30 percent yesterday on the news.
Boutique research firm Rodman and Renshaw raised its target on Novavax shares to $5 from $4 this morning, suggesting Spain is providing additional validation fo the company’s technology and it may be a foothold for Novavax to register its vaccine in other countries. — Mike Tarsala
Bill Gates, Small Biotech's New Biggest Investor (ALTH, AMAG, RDEA, ARYX, AUXL, BMRN, ETRM, INCY, ITMN, MAPP, OREX, VRUS, REGN, SGEN, VRTX, XNPT)
Late yesterday came the 13-F quarterly filing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust. Bill and Melinda have invested in drugs and research before, as well as dug companies, but there was a slew of biotech stocks in their quarterly holdings. Some of these are cancer winners, while others may seem random. Below we have broken these out by company and size of the position in dollars (M for million; K for thousand) as well as the number of shares.
ALLOS THERAPEUTICS INC. (NASDAQ: ALTH) $3.090M; 500,000 shares
AMAG PHARMACEUTICALS INC. (NASDAQ: AMAG) $1.839M; 50,000 shares
ARDEA BIOSCIENCES INC. (NASDAQ: RDEA) $2.165M; 210,386 shares
ARYX THERAPEUTICS INC. (NASDAQ: ARYX) $1.635M; 480,799 shares
AUXILIUM PHARMACEUTICALS INC. (NASDAQ: AUXL) $2.062M; 74,400 shares
BIOMARIN PHARMACEUTICAL INC. (NASDAQ: BMRN) $1.295M; 104,856 shares
ENTEROMEDICS INC. (NASDAQ: ETRM) $81K; 59,700 shares
INCYTE CORP. (NASDAQ: INCY) $1.02M; 435,700 shares
INTERMUNE INC. (NASDAQ: ITMN) $1.807M; 109,900 shares
MAP PHARMACEUTICALS INC. (NASDAQ: MAPP) $98K; 46,524 shares
OREXIGEN THERAPEUTICS INC. (NASDAQ: OREX) $36K; 13,900 shares
PHARMASSET INC. (NASDAQ: VRUS) $821K; 83,641 shares
REGENERON PHARMACEUTICALS (NASDAQ: REGN) $492K; 35,500 shares
SEATTLE GENETICS INC. (NASDAQ: SGEN) $34.718M; 3,521,088 shares
VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS INC. (NASDAQ: VRTX) $2.729M; 95,000 shares
XENOPORT INC. (NASDAQ: XNPT) $2.517M; 130,000 shares