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J&J to Pay $572M in Opioid Case; Plus Case-Shiller Home Price Read

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Again, here at the end of August, we mostly wait for a time of more populous economic data; in a week, we’ll start seeing things like new jobs reports from the month of August. Until then, we sift through tea leaves until we can land on something new and concrete…

Which brings us to Norman, Oklahoma, where Johnson & Johnson JNJ has been ruled against in a major opioid epidemic landmark case. The pharma giant now owes $572 million, as per the judge in this case, which pits J&J responsible for rampant opioid use beyond responsible levels. The other two companies originally named in the case — Teva TEVA and Purdue Pharma — had already settled for $85 million and $270 million, respectively.

However, shares are up roughly 1% in today’s pre-market for J&J, as analysts following the trial and other newsworthy items amid the U.S. opioid epidemic expected as much as a $17 billion charge to J&J in the case. Wall Street had priced in $1-2 billion. So even though J&J has been ruled to pay more than double Purdue’s settlement — J&J will no doubt be appealing this ruling — the dollar amount is still well below what many investors were fearing.

Not only J&J, but other pharma companies that provide opiates for patients — Teva, Mallinckrodt MNK, Endo International ENDP — are all up 3% in today’s pre-market. That said, the Oklahoma case is but the tip of the iceberg; analysts now look toward a new trial in Ohio this October on opioid abuse and pharma companies’ involvement in it. For that case, J&J is already openly discussing settlement options.

Case-Shiller Home Prices Up, but Slower

The late read (from June) — but deemed most accurate — on U.S. home prices from the latest Case-Shiller index showed home prices continuing to rise, but lower than in recent months. A headline of +3.1% annually is 20 basis points lower than the read for May. The 10-City index rose 1.8% while the 20-City was +2.1%, both down from the 2.2% and 2.4% in the previous month, respectively).

Leading cities were some of the usual suspects: Phoenix led the way in June home pricing, +5.8%, followed by Las Vegas at 5.5% and Tampa at 4.7%. Analysts cite hopefulness for future reads, with lower mortgage rates hopefully having spurred home prices in the later summer months. But, of course, we will need to wait a while to see if these expectations will have come to fruition.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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