The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AT&T, Optimer Pharmaceuticals, ViroPharma, Astellas Pharma and Incyte

CHICAGO, May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Optimer Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: OPTR), ViroPharma Inc. (Nasdaq: VPHM), Astellas Pharma (OTC:ALPMY) and Incyte Corp. (Nasdaq: INCY).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

AT&T Offers Home Security

Leading telecom companyAT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will unveil the Digital Life package, its home security and automation service, on May 3, in 15 cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami. The new product includes security cameras, thermostats and locks that can be controlled from phones and tablets.

The company targets to penetrate 50 markets with its digital life products by this year-end. We believe that product diversification will enable AT&T to grow beyond its legacy market and generate incremental revenues in the coming years.

The company stated in its press release that the market for home security services remains significantly unaddressed as only 1% of the U.S. households have automated security system. As a result, the company sees a potential financial opportunity to tap an $18 billion market of automated home security systems.

AT&T has so far seen more success in this market compared to its peers thanks to its own technology in home security digital products and adequate measures to market and promote these products.   

AT&T has priced the equipment and installation of a home security package for $250 with monthly charges of $40 per month. In addition, the company also offers a camera package for $10 per month along with equipment and installation, climate control for $5 per month, and a remote water main shutoff control for $10 per month. However, a basic package with only security would cost around $150 initially and $30 per month.   

Optimer's Dificid Cleared Down Under

Optimer Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: OPTR) received encouraging news recently when the Australian regulatory body (Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration) cleared its drug Dificid (fidaxomicin). Dificid tablets were cleared for the treatment of confirmed clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in adults.

The product will be available in Australia from May 14, 2013 from Specialised Therapeutics Australia Pty, Ltd. (STA). We note that STA has the exclusive rights to Dificid in Australia and New Zealand.

Dificid's Australian approval was based on positive results from two phase III studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of the drug in comparison to ViroPharma Inc.'s (Nasdaq: VPHM) oral Vancocin in CDI patients.

We remind investors that Dificid, Optimer's sole marketed product, was launched in the US in Jul 2011 for treating patients suffering from clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea (CDAD) -- the most common symptom of CDI. Dificid was launched in Canada in Jun 2012. Dificid is also approved in the EU under the trade name, Dificlir, since Dec 2011.

Optimer has an exclusive agreement with Astellas Pharma (OTC:ALPMY), under which Astellas has the rights to develop and commercialize Dificid in Europe and certain other countries. In Mar 2012, Optimer entered into another collaboration and license agreement with Astellas Japan. Astellas was granted exclusive, royalty-bearing license and intellectual property to develop and commercialize Dificlir in Japan.

Optimer reported Dificid net product sales of $62.4 million in the US in 2012 compared to $21.5 million in 2011.

While we are pleased with the company's effort to expand Dificid's market globally, we remain concerned about Optimer's dependence on a single product for growth.

Optimer, a biopharma company, currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Meanwhile, other biopharma stocks such as Incyte Corp. (Nasdaq: INCY) currently look better positioned carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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