) recently announced that the company has created seven positions
in the senior executive team. At the same time, two senior roles
We note that three of the seven newly created positions are
aimed at the discovery and development of candidates (including
small molecules and biologics). The other three positions were
created with region-wise (North America, Europe and
International) focus. A position for management of global
portfolio and product strategy was also created.
The two positions, which were terminated, were President of
Research and Development, and Executive Vice President, Global
We remind investors that last year Pascal Soriot was recruited
as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AstraZeneca. He is
heading the company since Sep 1, 2012.
We believe that the leadership change will benefit
AstraZeneca. It reflects the company's efforts to advance and
boost its pipeline with increased focus on research and
We remain concerned about the generic competition that
AstraZeneca is currently facing or expects to face for its
various drugs. This has put significant pressure on the company.
Additionally, there is increasing uncertainty regarding the
company's key drug Crestor (cholesterol management) due to the
entry of generic versions of
) Lipitor in Nov 2011. The company's much hyped antiplatelet,
Brilinta's performance has remained lukewarm.
AstraZeneca is looking to combat the generic threat through
deals and acquisitions. The Ardelyx and Isis Pharma agreements,
Ardea acquisition, the collaboration with
) and the expansion of the diabetes alliance with
) represent efforts in that direction.
We currently have a Neutral recommendation on AstraZeneca. The
stock carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) in the short run.
Large-cap pharma companies that currently look more attractive
Johnson & Johnson's
). All three companies carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
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