Teva Pharmaceutical Shares Plunge on CEO Resignation

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After denying rumors earlier this week that its CEO was considering resigning, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) announced Wednesday morning that President and Chief Executive Jeremy Levin indeed will depart from the company. Levin has been CEO since May of 2012.

Chief Financial Officer Eyal Desheh will serve as president and CEO of Teva on an interim basis, effective immediately, the company said. Desheh has been with Teva for 12 years.

The Israel-based generic-drug maker announced earlier this month its plans to reduce its global workforce by 10%, or about 5,000 employees, part of a cost-cutting plan as it prepares for lower-priced competition to its best-selling multiple sclerosis drug, Copaxone. Teva's sales and earnings have declined this year, in part due to weakness in its core generics business in the United States and Europe.

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"I categorically deny the rumours suggesting that I am considering resigning from the management of Teva," Levin said on Monday, following reports of strong differences of opinion between Levin and Chairman Phillip Frost over the implementation of Teva's new strategy. But that was then.

The company is scheduled to report its third-quarter results on Thursday. The consensus forecast calls for $1.26 per share in earnings and $5.00 billion in revenue. That compares to $1.28 per share on $4.97 billion in the same period of last year. On Tuesday, CNBC's Jim Cramer advised investors to take profits.

But the share price was down about 5% in premarket trading Wednesday to $39.00. The 52-week range is $36.63 to $42.83. Analysts had a mean price target of $44.16 before this news broke.

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