May 17, 2020

Will AstraZeneca Disappear if Pfizer Chooses Not to Bid?

3 min
Pfizer's original bid for AstraZeneca was doubled to allow the pharma company to agree for a merger. However, AstraZeneca rejected the bid forcing Pfizer to abandon its plan. (Photo Bidness Etc)
Since May of this year, AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) has been in the spotlight as shareholders have been excitedly awaiting the return of Pfizer to make a new...

Since May of this year, AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN) has been in the spotlight as shareholders have been excitedly awaiting the return of Pfizer to make a new buyout of the pharmaceutical company.

But that excitement quickly faded when the American company declared a massive $11 billion share repurchase program, deflating expectations that it will make a new bid for AstraZeneca.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) announced the program on Thursday, Oct. 23, noting that the repurchase would be completed “over time.” The plan is in addition to the $1.3 billion remaining under the company’s current repurchase plan. Together, Pfizer would have $12.3 billion for buying back its shares either from the open market or through negotiated deals.

At least a section of investors and analysts’ were hoping that Pfizer would restart its talks with AstraZeneca. (A few months back, Pfizer attempted to buy AstraZeneca for about $118 billion, but AstraZeneca rejected the bid.) But as Reuters pointed out, the buyback is one more in a series of events that does not bode well for a renewed attempt at bidding for the pharma company.

Tim Anderson, analyst at Bernstein Research, said Pfizer executives told him that the company needed to make a “tax inversion” deal with a European company in order to lower its tax base and so it could get access to an overseas cash hoard. If the deal wasn’t made with AstraZeneca, Pfizer would look to other possibilities (perhaps, Actavis ($ACT)), Anderson mentioned.

Shortly after, tax proposals by the U.S. Treasury Department were made, limiting the benefits of tax inversion deals and stopping the on-paper exodus of U.S. companies and their tax revenues. Because of this, AbbVie ($ABBV) quelled its $55 billion deal for the Dublin-based Shire, a move that investors took as further proof that Pfizer abandoned plans to return for AstraZeneca.

So what does this mean for the second largest pharmaceutical company in the UK?

According to analysts, AstraZeneca’s earnings are expected to fall 14 percent this year, then a further 7 percent next year. AstraZeneca’s management does not expect the company to return to growth until 2017, although by 2023 it is expected for sales to have doubled.

By solely looking at these numbers, it implies that if Pfizer does not return for AstraZeneca, its shares will fall. If the company’s valuation were to fall to a level similar to the rest of the sector, the shares would only be worth 3,523p. With earnings expected to fall during 2015, the company’s shares could fall further to 3,262p by 2015. 

Pfizer’s takeover of AstraZeneca was motivated by the lower tax bill, but with restrictions now in place, it’s likely that Pfizer won’t make another bid any time soon. In light of this, AstraZeneca’s shares could fall by as much as 10 percent.

This isn’t attractive to potential investors right now, but long-term, AstraZeneca obtains “defensive shares with attractive dividend yields” (according to The Motley Fool) that should not be overlooked.

So even if Pfizer chooses to pass by on the opportunity to bid on AstraZeneca come next month, AstraZeneca will suffer some short-term stock loss, but by no means will the company be going anywhere anytime soon.  

Share article

Jul 28, 2021

5 mins with... Johannes Bhakdi, Quantgene

3 min
5 mins with... Johannes Bhakdi, Quantgene
Johannes Bhakdi, CEO of Quantgene, tells us about their approach to identifying new COVID-19 variants

Quantgene is a US biotech company that uses AI and the cloud to do genomic testing. It was founded in 2015 to focus on cancer - integrating advanced genomics and molecular diagnostics systems with the cloud and AI systems. 

CEO Johannes Bhakdi tells us Quantgene is the first COVID-19 testing company to fully integrate variant identification - we find out more. 

Given the new Delta and Lambda variants, is the coronavirus mutating at a faster rate than most viruses?
The reason SARS-COV2 is mutating on a perceived higher rate is not that the individual viruses mutate at a higher rate, but that the base population infected with the virus is vastly higher. The absolute rate of global mutations is a direct function of how many people have the virus at any given point in time. Since this is a global pandemic, and tens of millions have been infected, we see more mutations. 

That makes it more unpredictable, because any single mutation that has an evolutionary advantage - like the Delta variant - can then take over and spread even faster.  

What is the usual process for testing and analysing viral mutations? 

The most effective tool for analysing mutations is Whole Viral Genome sequencing. It allows you to read out the entire genome of the virus. Once the wet-lab sequencing is complete, we use this information to map it against what is called a "reference genome", meaning the classic SARS-COV2 genome. This allows us to then see any differences between the investigated sample and the baseline genome of SARS COV2. 

We then use these differences to map them against a database of known mutations, like the Delta variant. That way we can see if we are dealing with any known variant, and if we have a new variant at our hands, as well as determine what this new variant does to the spike protein and how likely it is to be a problem with antigens and vaccines, based on the changed protein structure. This last step is not easy and not clear-cut, and there is some speculation into the determination of how problematic the mutated proteins are. 

 What does Quantgene do differently?  

At Quantgene, we are focusing on solving problems for our clients - may it be employers, movie productions or governments. That means we ensure that our client gets the COVID protection they need in the fastest possible time frame and at the highest precision possible - mostly at or below market prices. 

We are bringing together technologies like RT-PCR testing and mutation profiling/sequencing, as well as advanced bioinformatics and computational resources to ensure high-quality results are being delivered seamlessly. 

We are also adding important components such as real-time cloud software and medical services to it. Simply put, we turn the COVID problem into a one-click seamless solution that works better than others, so companies and government clients don't have to deal with laboratories, medical or software providers who point fingers at each other and fail to deliver in time and with high precision. COVID is too dangerous and important to risk falling short.     

Share article