Well, I hope Novartis (NYSE:NVS) enjoyed its time at the top. With the Eon Labs acquisition having closed on July 21, Novartis became the largest generics company in the world. As of Monday, though, TevaPharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:TEVA) has reclaimed the top spot with the announcement of a $7.4 billion deal to acquire rival generics maker Ivax (AMEX:IVX).

Of course, you don't just snap your fingers and close a transaction like this. Shareholders from both companies will have to approve the merger, regulatory authorities will have to sign off, and the various legalistic dotting of I's and crossing of T's must also take place. So Novartis will likely still have at least six months or so to enjoy the top of the mountain.

Assuming that the deal does go through, though, Teva will once again be top dog with sales in excess of $7 billion a year. Not only will Teva get access to Ivax's strong portfolio of generics (including generic Zoloft), but also Ivax has a strong proprietary branded drug business.

Now it would seem as though some analysts have already begun pointing to this deal as a sign of weakness on the part of Teva -- an acknowledgement that it can no longer deliver the growth on its own. I'm not inclined to agree. True, this year wasn't shaping up to be a banner year for Teva, but that's the nature of the business -- you have your ups and downs.

Rather, this appears to me to be business as usual. This is hardly the first acquisition that Teva has done (it acquired Sicor a year or so ago), and there are benefits to size in this industry. Not only can larger companies operate more efficiently (say in terms of R&D) but also they can exercise more leverage with customers.

While this deal won't necessarily be transformative for Teva, it will be significant. Ivax not only gets more of its revenue from branded products but also engages in authorized generics deals with big pharma companies -- something that Teva has opposed in the past. What's more, financing the cash portion of the deal and Ivax's convertible debt will certainly alter the financial structure of the company.

All in all, I still like Teva. It's not a super-duper bargain basement pick, but it's a solid business. Every once in a while, I think we would all do well to remember that it's good businesses that produce long-term stock growth, not financial ratios or screening methodologies.

For decidedly nongeneric takes:

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).