The Abbott Break-Up Seems To Make Sense (ABT, BIIB, BMY)

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Drug and medical stocks are not generally thought of as stocks hitting 52-week highs by the investing public.  So what about when a company decides to unlock shareholder value by breaking itself up?  Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) is company which we noted one day could become the next mega-cap ($100 billion in value), but now the company is breaking itself up into two companies.

The first bit of news is that the $1.18 EPS report was a penny ahead of expectations, but other reports were calling the earnings a miss.  The larger news is of the company’s break-up whereby it will spin off its drug unit.  Zacks has outlined its take on the break-up as well with a current “Neutral” rating

There are at least two partnerships which hang in the balance, although this should not change the relationships in any meaningful way on the surface.  Abbott has a partnership with Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) for daclizumab (in phase III) to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.  The candidate of elotuzumab, under development with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) is in Phase III studies for multiple myeloma. We would not consider any of these partnerships as being at-risk.
 
After the split, Abbott will become two separate public companies: one will be focused on diversified medical products and one will focus on R&D-based pharmaceuticals.

Diversified medical products: will have an estimated $22 billion in sales and it will retain the Abbott Labs-branded generic pharmaceutical, nutrition, diagnostics, and devices operations.

R&D-based pharma: NewCo is yet to be named and sales are estimated at roughly $18 billion.  This is Abbott’s current portfolio of proprietary pharma and biologics.  Products are CReaon, Kaletra, Humira, Lupron, Synagis, and Synthroid.

The tax-free spin-off will be distributed to existing Abbott Laboratories shareholders and is slated to be completed by the end of 2012 as it wants to continue to ensure its growth strategy.

Abbott saw its shares peak in the $58 to $60 range in 2007 to 2008 and things have not yet recovered the former peak.  Still, shares did hit a 52-week high of $55.61 on Wednesday morning and the stock is currently up 4.5% at $54.83 and shares have already traded double the normal volume in less than an hour of trading.

The current consensus analyst price target one-year out from Thomson Reuters is only $58.00.  This break-up aims to go above and beyond that.

JON C. OGG