The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Bristol-Myers, Celgene, Merck, Pfizer and AbbVie

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - January 7, 2019 - announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Bristol-Myers BMY , Celgene Corporation CELG , Merck MRK , Pfizer PFE and AbbVie ABBV .

Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Pharma Stock Roundup: BMY/CELG Deal & More

The pharma sector was relatively lying low this week with some news grabbing attention only towards the end. Top stories this week were Bristol-Myers' offer to buy cancer giant Celgene Corporation in a cash and stock deal worth $74 billion and Merck's decision to exercise the option to in-license a NASH candidate from partner NGM Biopharmaceuticals.

Recap of the Week's Most Important Headlines

Bristol-Myers to Acquire Celgene for $74B: Bristol-Myers began the year announcing one of the largest merger deals in the biotech/pharma sector. The company is acquiring cancer drug specialist Celgene in a cash-stock deal valued at $74 billion. Per the transaction, each Celgene shareholder will receive a consideration of $102.43, comprising one share of Bristol-Myers (valued at $52.43 on Jan 2, 2019) and $50 per share in cash. The deal makes strategic sense as the combination will create a premier innovative biopharma giant with leading franchises in oncology, immunology and inflammation and cardiovascular disease. The combined entity with have nine products generating more than $1 billion in sales and is expected to launch six products in the near term. Moreover, the consolidated company will have a deep and diverse early and late-stage pipeline. Following the transaction, Bristol-Myers is expected to realize cost synergies of approximately $2.5 billion by 2022. The company also separately issued adjusted earnings guidance for 2019 in the range of $4.10-$4.20. While shares of Bristol-Myers decline, that of Celgene were up on announcement of the news.

Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers tyrosine kinase inhibitor, Sprycel, gained an FDA nod for its use in pediatric patients in combination with chemotherapy for newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Sprycel is also approved for Ph+ chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase in pediatric patients.

Merck In-Licenses NASH Candidate, Keytruda Gets 5 Approvals in Japan: Merck exercised its option to in-license a NASH and type II diabetes candidate, NGM313, now renamed as MK-3655 from NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. for $20 million. With this deal, Merck gets exclusive global rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize NGM313, a once-monthly insulin sensitizer. Merck's one-time option was triggered as NGM completed a phase Ib proof-of-concept study on the candidate. Data from the study presented last November showed that a single dose of the medicine led to a statistically significant reduction in liver fat content (LFC) and improvements in multiple metabolic parameters after five weeks of treatment. Merck plans to initiate a phase IIb study on the candidate while NGM Biopharmaceuticals retains the option to take a 50% cost and profit-sharing partnership for NGM313 once the candidate enters late-stage development.

Meanwhile, the company's PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda clinched five new label expansion approvals in Japan. These included three approvals as a first-line treatment option for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and the other two as an adjuvant therapy for melanoma and in advanced microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) tumors.

Pfizer Starts Pivotal Study on Alopecia Areata Candidate: Pfizer initiated a global pivotal phase IIb/III study on its oral JAK3 inhibitor candidate, PF-06651600, for the treatment of moderate to severe alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is a chronic autoimmune skin disease causing hair loss - often patchy - on the scalp, face or body. Top-line data from a phase IIa study on PF-06651600 was presented in September 2018. The study met the primary endpoint of improving hair re-growth on the scalp as compared to baseline over 24 weeks' regimen.

AbbVie Inks New Immunotherapy Deal: AbbVie signed a strategic collaboration with private cancer biotech, Tizona Therapeutics, to develop and commercialize immunotherapies targeting the CD39-enzyme including pre-clinical candidate TTX-030. AbbVie plans to begin clinical studies on TTX-030 in the first quarter of 2019. The company made an upfront payment of $105 million to Tizona for the license to its CD39 program while also buying an equity stake in the company.

The NYSE ARCA Pharmaceutical Index declined 1.4% in the last four trading sessions.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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