Ahead of the Bell: Drugmaker Actavis' shares up

Shares of Actavis rise, as reports of acquisition interest in the drugmaker surface

Associated Press

Shares of Actavis Inc. rose in premarket trading Thursday after reports surfaced that one of the world's biggest generic drugmaker has drawn interest from some competitors considering an acquisition.

The Parsippany, N.J., company's stock had already climbed about 16 percent since last Friday, when Actavis and Irish drugmaker Warner Chilcott PLC said that they were in early talks about a possible combination but had reached no agreement yet.

Actavis shares rose 62 cents to $124.50 in premarket trading about 40 minutes ahead of Thursday's market opening. They have risen 44 percent since closing 2012 at $86

Jefferies analyst Corey Davis said in a research note he sees a high probability for that deal to be completed, and he thinks it makes strategic and financial sense. The analyst raised his price target on Actavis shares to $120 from $81, but he kept his rating on the stock at "hold." Davis said he thinks the share price already reflects the potential deal.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening that Actavis rebuffed bids from Mylan Inc. and Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., and that Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG may be considering its own bid.

Representatives of Actavis and Mylan declined to comment on the report. Valeant and Novartis representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

Actavis was formed last fall through a $5.6 billion combination of Watson Pharmaceuticals of New Jersey and Actavis of Switzerland. Actavis sells versions of the deep vein thrombosis treatment Lovenox, asthma medication Xopenex, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drugs Adderall XR and Concerta, and the cholesterol fighter Lipitor, among many other products.

It also has a pharmaceutical distribution business called Anda.

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