Breakingviews

Pfizer bets $14 bln it knows better than market

August 22, 2016

The drug giant is paying a 120 pct premium for Medivation. It's a good fit and the biotech's cancer blockbuster is a rare gem. The whopping premium suggests Pfizer sees something others missed. But a heated auction and back-of-the-envelope math hint that the buyer is overpaying.

Bristol-Myers suffers $21 bln self-inflicted wound

August 5, 2016

That's how much value investors wiped off the pharma firm after its trial to broaden the use of a cancer drug failed. It was an unnecessarily risky move for Bristol, whose immunotherapy has been outselling Merck's. The stumble will allow its more cautious rival to clean up.

Valeant may strain to engineer way out the in door

June 6, 2016

As the embattled drugmaker prepares to report its first results under a new CEO, it’s also seeking a new business model beyond acquisitions and price hikes. Financial razzmatazz sometimes works both ways, but Valeant’s debt and possible suitors could make it hard science.

J&J’s corpulence defense weighs heavy

June 2, 2016

The bulging healthcare conglomerate is swallowing hair-care firm Vogue for $3.3 bln in defiance of calls to break up. J&J’s $312 bln market value makes it a hard target for activists. Yet its obesity has created ailments from poor M&A digestion to mediocre shareholder returns.

Bayer’s Monsanto bid yields poor financial harvest

May 27, 2016

The German chemicals group’s rejected $62 bln offer for the seed maker already appeared to violate one of its key principles: stick to projects whose returns beat the cost of capital. Upping the price to win over Monsanto would take heroic sales-growth assumptions to stack up.

Medical firms’ $18 bln merger lacks clear logic

May 3, 2016

Healthcare data miner IMS is uniting with Quintiles, a manager of drug trials. Each will own about half the combined company, and other than some cost savings, the reasons for combining are a bit nebulous. The presence of buyout firm TPG on both sides may offer some clues.

Abbott’s $25 bln buy inspires little investor hope

April 28, 2016

It’s buying medical-device maker St. Jude at a $6.5 bln premium. Cost cuts cover less than half that, and earnings accretion doesn’t make it a good deal. Abbott’s value tumbled over $5 bln. Shareholders may recall that the target’s namesake is the patron saint of lost causes.

Valeant plays chicken with death spiral

March 15, 2016

The pharma company’s failure to file audited results has started a countdown to default that vaporized 40 pct of its market value in early trading. Executives are mulling selling assets. But with so many questions about its financials unanswered, Valeant’s outlook is bleak.

Valeant CEO back with less power and no glory

February 29, 2016

Mike Pearson has returned from illness, stripped of his chairmanship. The $25 bln drugmaker also withdrew guidance and will further delay reporting 2015 results. Marginally better-looking governance isn’t enough to give investors like Bill Ackman hope of reversing losses.

Overdue Mylan deal is not the one investors wanted

February 11, 2016

Three months after rival Perrigo refused its $26 bln offer, the drugmaker has agreed to buy Sweden’s Meda AB. Though the $7.2 bln transaction makes strategic sense, the 92 pct premium is hard to justify. Mylan might have been better served by trying to sell, rather than buy.