January 29, 2011 · Filed Under Acquisitions, Anemia, Cancer, Cardiac, dendreon, Diabetes, Heart, Infections, M&A, obesity, R&D, Rumor · 1 Comment 

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.


Analysis of Real Value of Beckman Coulter in Buyout (BEC)

December 10, 2010 · Filed Under Financial, M&A, R&D, Research · Comment 

Beckman Coulter, Inc. (NYSE: BEC) is on fire after announcing that it is for sale.  The company provides biomedical testing instrument systems, tests, and supplies for clinical laboratories worldwide.  We wanted to see what it can fetch in a sale to see if investors should hang around for more or whether they should take the money and run.

Private equity firms are expected to be the buyers, although other industrial companies might have an interest.  Reports are out the Beckman Coulter has hired Goldman Sachs to help it explore its options.

The shares closed at $57.09 Thursday and its market capitalization was just under $4 billion.  Shares are now magically at $72.75.

2010 has been a very rough year as its summer guidance punished shares with more than a 20% loss.  Its CEO also left after a five-year tenure and no real explanation was offered.

The stock is up over 27% this morning at $72.75 and shares put in a new high for 2010 today. The new 52-week range is $43.95 to $74.85.

We took a look at the stock options trading but investors will need to go out to FEB-2011 to get enough time value.  The $75 CALLS are trading above $3.00, implying that shares need to be acquired for more than $78.00 for the options trade to work out.

As you saw elsewhere, this company had a monumental rise from 1990 to the early 2000s.  The problem is that by 2005 shares peaked above $70.00 and the prices in the mid-$70′s acted as key resistance on the chart again in 2007, 2008, and again in 2009.  Today’s move puts the stock above $70.00 for what appears to be the first time in 2010.

You never know what a buyer will pay if there is major interest or if a bidding war develops.  This news today just created what some investors would call a phantom $1 billion in added share value by market capitalization alone.

If you average out the 2010 and 2011 estimates from Thomson Reuters, you get close to a $4.00 EPS target.  There is also only an expected 4% revenue growth for 2011 to $3.82 billion in sales.  The current share price comes to more than 18-times a blended 2010 to 2011 earnings estimate.

The most recent balance sheet as of 9/30/2010 showed more than $300 million in cash and long-term investments combined but it also comes with long-term debt of $1.33 billion and other liabilities of $533 million.  The WSJ noted that this could fetch more than $5 billion in a buyout.  We would caution that leaked rumors and leaked news is often a value of the enterprise with all equity AND debt rater than just equity as it is being treated today.

Analysts are cautious here on this one.  Before the effects of this news, the consensus analyst target was just above $55.00 per share.  The highest target was said to be $66.00 and the lowest target was $47.00.

For a company that has had problems and that has been volatile, this may be a gift at the current share price.  Many investors will likely determine that today’s gains represent enough of a buyout premium to take the money and run.  That may be even more so while we know 100% that the capital gains taxes are only 15% through December 31, 2010.  A tax cut compromise was reached, but it is not signed and many key figures are fighting it.

Beckman Coulter could fetch a higher price depending upon who is the acquirer.  Logic and common sense seems to lead to the conclusion that this big gain seen on Friday is a high enough premium already.


Beckman Coulter Becomes BioHealth’s Biggest Loser (BEC)

July 23, 2010 · Filed Under Financial, R&D · Comment 

Beckman Coulter Inc. (NYSE: BEC) just became the biggest stealth loser this Friday.  The maker of BioMed and BioHealth testing systems missed earnings and its forecast is a disappointment.  This stock is being dubbed the biggest stealth loser this morning because it is down the most and its volume is not so active that everyone knows it nor so active that everyone invests in it.  That may change today as trading is going to be exponential.

The company reported Q2 earnings at $0.84 EPS versus a Thomson Reuters figure of $1.07 EPS. Revenue was short at $902 million versus estimates of $929.7 million.  Net profit was no better at $44.6 million, or $0.63 on a GAAP basis, down from $60.8 million and $0.94 EPS a year ago.

The new guidance for 2010 was put at $3.90 to $4.00 EPS, well short of the estimate of $4.36 EPS.  Revenue was put at a new target range of $3.65 to $3.7 billion, short of the $3.76 billion estimate.

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