Why You Must Watch Nestlé SA, Cellular Dynamics International Inc., AstraZeneca plc (ADR), and ArthroCare Corporation Today

Nestlé, Cellular Dynamics, AstraZeneca, and ArthroCare could make health care headlines this morning. Here’s why.

Jan 8, 2014 at 7:57AM

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Good morning, fellow Foolish investors! Let's take a closer look at four stocks which could loom large in health care headlines this morning: Nestlé (NASDAQOTH:NSRGY), Cellular Dynamics (NASDAQ:ICEL), AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), and ArthroCare (NASDAQ:ARTC).

Nestlé buys... brain and liver cells?

Our first story today involves Nestlé, the Swiss company which is commonly associated with snacks and drinks.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nestlé is working out a surprising deal with Cellular Dynamics International to obtain stem cell-like brain and liver cells. This unusual partnership is aimed at helping Nestlé develop nutritionally enhanced drinks and other food products with medical benefits.

Nestlé's decision to develop healthier products comes at a time when packaged and processed foods from industry peers like General Mills, Kraft, and Mondelez are being scrutinized by health advocates. Nestlé's rival Danone also made a big move into the medically enhanced products industry in 2007 by acquiring baby food and nutritional products company Numico for $16.7 billion.

According to Euromonitor International, the global market for health and wellness food and beverages is expected to grow from $772 billion in 2013 and $944 billion by 2018. Sales of these items is forecast to grow 22% over that period, outpacing sales of conventional packaged foods by 50%.

The deal is also a highly unusual one for Cellular Dynamics, which usually provides its cell samples to pharmaceutical companies for drug development. The company, which made its market debut in July 2013, has been growing rapidly.

Last quarter, Cellular Dynamics' revenue rose 105% year-over-year, although it remains unprofitable. The company's two top selling products are its iCell Cardiomyocytes (cardiac stem cells) and iCell Neurons.

The new deal with Nestlé opens the door to other intriguing deals outside of the pharmaceuticals industry. If other large packaged food companies follow Nestlé's example, the company's revenue could surge.

However, investors shouldn't get overly excited yet -- the financial terms of the deal have not yet been announced.

AstraZeneca signs an immunotherapy deal with Immunocore

Meanwhile, British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca's MedImmune unit signed a deal with private biotech company Immunocore today. AstraZeneca is paying Immunocore an upfront payment of $20 million per program, additional payments worth up to $300 million, as well as additional royalties.

The deal adds a technology known as ImmTAC (Immune Mobilizing Monoclonal T-Cell Receptor Against Cancer) to AstraZeneca's growing oncology portfolio. ImmTAC is a type of immunotherapy treatment -- a newer kind of cancer treatment which attempts to assist the body's own immune system in destroying cancerous cells.

This deal is significant to AstraZeneca because it reflects CEO Pascal Soriot's efforts to better position the company as a contender in oncology. In the past, AstraZeneca's top line growth was mainly fueled by three drugs -- the antipsychotic drug Seroquel, the cholesterol drug Crestor, and the acid reflux treatment Nexium.

However, the instant release (IR) version of Seroquel already faces generic competition, Crestor's main patent will expire in 2016, and Nexium's patent expires in 2014. Together, these drugs (including Seroquel XR) generated $13 billion in revenue for the company in 2012, accounting for 46% of the company's top line.

To deal with these upcoming losses, AstraZeneca has signed several deals to expose its pipeline to some of the most promising cancer treatments, such as Probiodrug's cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) inhibitors and antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) from Spirogen and ADC Therapeutics. With the Immunocore deal, AstraZeneca now has improved access to immunotherapy technology.

While these deals are promising, AstraZeneca still trails behind oncology leader Roche, as well as other leading companies in immunotherapies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck.

ArthroCare agrees to pay $30 million to settle fraud charges

Last but not least, medical device maker ArthroCare rallied after hours yesterday after the company signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve allegations of fraud committed by the company's previous management team.

The six-year-old investigation centered on former CEO Michael Baker and ex-CFO Michael Gluk's alleged $400 million scheme to defraud investors by inflating the company's earnings. DOJ prosecutors claimed that ArthroCare did this by shipping extra products to its distributors at the end of each quarter, although they were not actual orders, so that the shipments could be counted as sales to meet forecasts.

Yesterday, ArthroCare agreed to pay a $30 million fine and maintain a compliance program over a 24-month period. As a result, the company can avoid criminal charges by fulfilling conditions which can lead to the dismissal of the case.

ArthroCare manufactures surgical devices, instruments, and implants. It also manufactures surgical devices for minimally invasive procedures. Last quarter, the company's earnings and revenue respectively rose 2.9% and 5.7%.

Investors haven't been terribly concerned about the ongoing investigation, since the stock has rallied 14% over the past 12 months. However, an end to the fraud investigation will lift a considerable weight off of the stock.

Some analysts believe that this development could also clear the way for an acquisition by a larger medical device company, such as Stryker or Johnson & Johnson.

Top Stock Pick for 2014

There's a huge difference between a good stock, and a stock that can make you rich. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

Fool contributor Leo Sun has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers