Healthcare Review: VIVUS, McKesson & WellPoint Down, Idenix Pharmaceuticals Rebounds Print E-mail
By Staff and Wire Reports   
Friday, 17 August 2012 12:45

icon_MarketReportUPU.S. stocks are trading higher after economic data showed a rise in consumer sentiment in August.This morning, the University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment index rose to a preliminary August reading of 73.6 from a final July reading of 72.3. Several healthcare stocks are making notable news at mid day on Friday:


VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS) shares slid 7% to $21.18 as this morning analyst at Jefferies downgraded the stock s to Underperform, citing generic competition. While investors have been concerned about patents for the weight-loss drug Qsymia, the firm thinks doctors may choose to prescribe generics since branded Qsymia is unlikely to be covered by payors and the two generics will be more affordable for patients.

Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:IDIX) shares rebounded 4% to $6.10 after slumping 30% in yesterday’s session after the FDA's placement of a clinical hold on its hepatitis C treatment. Today’s fraction rebound came as analyst at Brean Murray upgraded the stock s to Hold from Sell. On the other hand, Leerink Swann maintains its Outperform rating, believing the clinical hold feels more like a precaution than a disaster.

WellPoint, Inc.(NYSE:WLP) is down 1.50% as analyst at Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to Equal-Weight this morning. The firm says it's facing more pressure from an unfavorable mix of commercial health-insurance prices and medical costs, and its "risk-reward looks less compelling" than that of its peers. WLP cut FY12 guidance last month due to waning membership, and Morgan sees that that trend continuing over the second half as well.

McKesson Corporation(NYSE:MCK) is another stock in the healthcare sector which was downgraded by Morgan Stanley to Equal-weight . The firm says earnings look "flattish" next year due to fewer new exclusive generics, and any EPS growth would simply be the result of stock buybacks instead of meaningful sales. It adds that with no new catalysts over the near term, the upside looks limited.

Pain Therapeutics, Inc.(NASDAQ:PTIE) is up 1% after being initiated with a Buy at C.K. Cooper. The firm says it wants to stay ahead of an potentially positive news on Remoxy, its extended release capsules of oxycodone being developed with Pfizer. The FDA rejected the drug in June, but Cooper believes the stock will move higher once PFE clarifies its plans for resubmission.

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