AstraZeneca Takes Over AlphaCore

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AstraZeneca’s (AZN) worldwide biologics research and development (R&D) unit, MedImmune recently acquired AlphaCore Pharma, a biotechnology company based in Michigan. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by the companies.

We note that the acquisition of AlphaCore Pharma adds ACP-501 (a recombinant human lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase/ LCAT enzyme) to AstraZeneca’s pipeline. The candidate is being developed for acute coronary syndromes (:ACS) and other high-risk atherosclerosis conditions for the rapid removal of tissue cholesterol.

We believe that AstraZeneca’s acquisition of AlphaCore Pharma is aimed at combating the generic threat hanging over many of its key drugs. Moreover, AstraZeneca is looking towards cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line to overcome the threat of genericization.

Last month AstraZeneca initiated a major overhaul of its R&D and selling, general and administrative (SG&A) segments. As per the proposed plans, the company’s R&D activities will be primarily centered in three facilities including UK (Cambridge), US (Gaithersburg) and Sweden (Mölndal). The proposed initiative will result in relocation and termination of approximately 2,500 and 1,600 roles, respectively, in the 2013-2016 timeframe and cost approximately $1.4 billion. The SG&A segment will also be optimized with the help of restructuring activities, which will result in the termination of approximately 2,300 employees.

AstraZeneca, a large cap pharma company, carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, other large cap pharma stocks such as Novo Nordisk (NVO) currently look more attractive with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other pharma stocks that look attractive include Cytokinetics, Inc. (CYTK) and Osiris Therapeutics, Inc. (OSIR). Both are Zacks Rank #1 stocks.

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