One major pharmaceutical company just received a double dose of good news.
The U.S. Department of Justice has ended its probe of AstraZeneca over its new heart drug, Brilinta. The company was under investigationforthe way a drug trial was conducted on about 18,000 patients for the blood thinner. This may mean big money for AstraZeneca; it expects to make $3.5 billion in annual revenue on the drug by 2023. Tuesday also saw positive results released on AstraZeneca’s trial of an antibiotic, ceftazidime-avibactam.
“Certainly that’s a good thing when the Feds are no longer breathing down your neck,” said Marc Lichtenfeld, chief income strategist at The Oxford Club. “But let’s not forget it wasn’t the Department of Justice that originally questioned the validity of this trial. It was some doctors who published an article in a medicaljournal. And until those questions are answered, I don’t think that the drug Brilinta will come anywhere close to the $3.5 billion in revenue that was originally projected.”
Lichtenfeld is referring to a paper in the International Journal of Cardiology written by two doctors that was critical of AstraZeneca’s Brilinta trials.
As it now stands, Lichtenfeld thinks AstraZeneca is overpriced relative to other pharmaceutical companies.
“There’s not a lot to like here,” Lichtenfeld said. “Sure, there are some clinical trials and some data that came out recently. But all the big pharmas have decent clinical trials coming out. They all have big pipelines. I think there area lot better opportunities out there.”
But for Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson, AstraZeneca is a stock to own based on its charts.
“I really like the stock here,” said Ross, a “Talking Numbers” contributor. “What we have is a compelling technical setup with a powerful fundamental catalyst.”
According to Ross, AstraZeneca’s stock held an uptrend as well as its 100-day moving average starting in October. It then made an “island reversal,” gapping up on Pfizer’s bid for the company in April, only to gap down on Pfizer’s retraction in May. However, in the past few weeks, the stock broke below its uptrend and 100-day moving average.
“But importantly, you’ve held the 200-day moving average,” Rosssaid. The stock came close to testing the 200-day moving average, currently at $66.68 per share, but subsequently moved higher. “That’s why I like the stock here – a nice little bounce off the 200-day.”
Yet it’s the long-term chart that Ross really likes with AstraZeneca. “For over four years, the stock does absolutely nothing until earlier this year when we explode out of that multiyear trading range,” he said. “That tells me there’s further upside from here. I really like the stock on this pullback. It’s a great sector. This is one you want to own.”
To see the full discussion on AstraZeneca, with Ross on the technicals and Lichtenfeld on the fundamentals, watch the above video from CNBC’s “Street Signs.”