Analysis: Teva tumble accelerates

Shares in Teva slid as one of the generic drug maker's worst ever month-long trading performances continued.

teva 88 (photo credit: )
teva 88
(photo credit: )
Shares in Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. slid Thursday, as one of the generic drug maker's worst ever month-long trading performances continued. Since plummeting 8.6 percent in one session, after the company announced on May 10 that it would report a $1 billion first quarter loss, the stock drifted down to NIS 159 on June 20, before it was hit with Wednesday's news that Merck & Co. was doing a deal with UnitedHealth Group that would undercut Teva's generic version of Merck's Zocor cholesterol pill. Teva shares then slumped some 10% further in two days. After the May warning, fundamental analysts were quick to recommend the weakness as a buying opportunity, while technical analysts saw the decline as a sell signal. Those conflicting views for the shares remain amid the latest turmoil. Speaking from a technical perspective, Oli Greenspan, a trader at London-based Hamilton Court Capital - sees no short-term recovery for the shares. "As I said on May 11, we would still not be buyers at these levels - the stock is in a downward trend and we are staying short of the shares." He pointed out that there could be some degree of support at NIS 140, but certainly would not recommend purchase while the general sentiment in trading rooms is so negative towards Teva. Greenspan's somber mood was not reflected in Thursday's notes from fundamental analysts, however. "We think today's [Wednesday's] stock price move is an overreaction and we'd be buyers," Piper Jaffray analyst Deborah Knobelman wrote in a note to clients. Coincidentally, her view of this latest collapse was rather similar to her response to the May fall when she called the move"an overreaction, given that we still have comfort in Teva's long-term business model." William Blair analyst Richard Watson went so far as to suggest "investors buy on [the current] weakness, which we view as overdone," - but his firm also was recommending Teva as a buy after May's warning, when the shares were 20% above current levels. Standard & Poor's analyst Philip Seligman, meanwhile, reiterated his "buy" recommendation, although he also lowered his price target by almost 10%, while Elliot Wilbur of CIBC World Markets kept the shares rated "sector outperformer," calling the Merck unique and indicating that "feedback from Teva … suggests most managed care companies are not receptive to the program." The most bullish note of all, however, came from Israeli investment house Leader and Co. whose analysts said the current generic drugs Teva has in the market place, as well as its strong pipeline of products, suggest "there is almost 50% of upside in the stock at current levels" and they even called Teva is "the most attractive stock in the Israeli market at present."