The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amgen, ARIAD, Clovis Oncology, Regeneron and Akebia Therapeutics

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - December 17, 2015 - 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 Amgen ( AMGN ), ARIAD ( ARIA ), Clovis Oncology ( CLVS ), Regeneron ( REGN ) and Akebia Therapeutics ( AKBA ).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Biotech Stock Roundup

Amgen's ( AMGN ) 27% hike in its first quarter dividend was one of the key highlights this week. Meanwhile, ARIAD ( ARIA ), which has yet to arrive at an agreement in France related to Iclusig pricing and reimbursement, cut its Iclusig revenue guidance for 2015.

Recap of the Week's Most Important Stories

1. Amgen's investors should react favorably to the company's announcement that it is raising its first quarter 2016 dividend by 27% to $1.00 per share. This represents a dividend yield of 2.46%. Amgen has been quite active in returning value to shareholders both through dividends as well as share buybacks. One of the company's key commitments for 2018 is to return about 60% of net income to shareholders.

Meanwhile, Amgen said that it will be taking back all of its remaining rights to Prolia, Xgeva and Vectibix from Glaxo. Some of the markets include key expansion regions like Brazil, China, Colombia, Hong Kong, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Amgen, which will provide Glaxo with undisclosed milestone payments related to the closing of the deal, expects the transaction to boost 2017 earnings (Read more: Amgen Regains Rights to Prolia, Xgeva & Vectibix from Glaxo ).

2. Clovis Oncology ( CLVS ) said that the FDA will need an additional three months to review the company's NDA for its experimental cancer treatment, rociletinib. The company had submitted a major amendment in November on the FDA's request for additional data. The FDA is now expected to respond on the approval status of rociletinib by Jun 28.

3. Formulary coverage for PCSK9 inhibitors continues to make news with the latest update coming from Regeneron ( REGN ) and Sanofi. The companies said that Praluent is the only PCSK9 inhibitor preferred across UnitedHealth Group formularies, including OptumRx and UnitedHealthcare Commercial, Medicare, and Managed Medicaid formularies.

We note that last month Amgen had announced that its PCSK9 inhibitor, Repatha, would have a preferred position across CVS/caremark commercial formularies. Meanwhile, Express Scripts has placed both Repatha and Praluent on its National Preferred Formulary, which covers approximately 25 million Americans.

4. ARIAD announced that pricing and reimbursement negotiations for its cancer treatment, Iclusig, with the Economic Committee on Health Care Products in France will continue into 2016. The company had previously expected to reach an agreement by the end of this year. However, with discussions now expected to continue into 2016, ARIAD said that it now expects 2015 Iclusig sales in the range of $110 million to $115 million, down from its previously provided guidance. Shares were down on the lowered outlook (Read more: ARIAD Lowers Iclusig's 2015 Revenue Outlook, Shares Fall ).

5. Akebia Therapeutics ( AKBA ) signed a development and commercialization agreement with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation for vadadustat in Japan and certain other countries in Asia. Vadadustat, an oral therapy, is being developed for the treatment of anemia related to chronic kidney disease (CKD). The deal will see Akebia getting up to $350 million from Mitsubishi Tanabe - this includes $100 million for funding the phase III global program for vadadustat and milestone payments of up to $250 million. Akebia will also be entitled to tiered royalty payments (Read more: Akebia Up on Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Deal for Vadadustat ).

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AMGEN INC (AMGN): Free Stock Analysis Report

ARIAD PHARMA (ARIA): Free Stock Analysis Report

CLOVIS ONCOLOGY (CLVS): Free Stock Analysis Report

REGENERON PHARM (REGN): Free Stock Analysis Report

AKEBIA THERAP (AKBA): Free Stock Analysis Report

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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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