Teva's Branded-Drug Binge

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For a company that's a generic-drug maker, Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: TEVA  ) sure does like its branded drugs. Despite the warts -- patent expirations -- the company is ponying up $6.2 billion to buy Cephalon (Nasdaq: CEPH  ) .

Teva already has $3 billion multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone in addition to a bunch of other smaller drugs. The addition of Cephalon will help Teva reduce its dependence on Copaxone, which currently makes up 21% of sales. Fellow Fool Anders Bylund thinks Teva is running scared after the introduction of Novartis's (NYSE: NVS  ) competing oral medication, Gilenya. Since then, Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB  ) has presented positive data on its oral multiple sclerosis drug BG-12, which may have pushed the move along.

The big question is whether Teva overpaid for the privilege. Remember, Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: VRX  ) was only willing to pay $5.7 billion in its hostile bid for Cephalon. Being the white knight is heroic, but there's no sense in overpaying to do it.

Teva may be OK, though. By all accounts, Valeant was really low-balling Cephalon with its offer, and Teva has been at least cursorily interested in Cephalon since before Valeant made its unsolicited offer.

Most of Cephalon's revenue comes from sleep disorder medication Provigil, but it'll go off patent next year. Whether the $6.2 billion deal pays off for Teva likely depends on the pipeline it's inheriting. It should only take one big hit or a couple of smaller ones to justify the price.

While the branded drugs are the most important aspect to the deal, there is one bonus feature right up Teva's alley. Cephalon has a generic division called Mepha, which should fit right in, especially since it used to be associated with Ratiopharm that Teva bought last year.

And Teva doesn't appear to be abandoning its roots. News reports suggest that Teva is in the process of buying Taiyo Pharmaceuticals, a generic-drug maker in Japan.

Novartis and Teva are Motley Fool Global Gains selections. The Fool owns shares of Teva. 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.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On May 03, 2011, at 10:41 PM, Ozcutty wrote:

    They paid about 15x earnings. However CEPH just posted profits that almost doubled so looks like they got a VERY good deal on this one.

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