The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: UBS, Celgene, Sanofi, Roche and Eli Lilly

CHICAGO, Oct. 24, 2012 /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 UBS AG (NYSE: UBS), Celgene Corporation (Nasdaq: CELG), Sanofi (NYSE: SNY), Roche (OTC:RHHBY) and Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY).

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Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

UBS Plans More Layoffs

UBS AG (NYSE: UBS) is contemplating more layoffs in the European investment banking division, according to a Bloomberg report. The job cuts come as part of the company's efforts to reorganize its business.

The layoffs are now likely to be in the equities and fixed income section as the company resizes its merger advisory business, according to the report. This would result in total job cuts of around 400. The layoffs represent around 10% of the division's front office staff in the region.

Only last month, according to a Bloomberg report, around 80 to 90 jobs were planned to be slashed at UBS advisory division, which comprises equity and debt capital markets. The layoffs are expected to spill over to the trading business too.

The layoffs come as UBS faces a challenging operating environment in the region. The sovereign debt crisis has been a matter of concern and the company has resorted to such restructuring measures to address such issues. Notably, the company, which is trimming its securities division to refocus on its wealth management business, has already achieved its target of employee reductions it scheduled for the end of next year.

UBS, which is scheduled to report its earnings later this month, is not the only European firm that is overhauling its business. Amidst the stressed operating environment and stringent capital norms, other European firms are rightsizing their business to meet such challenges.

FDA Label Expansion for Abraxane

Celgene Corporation (Nasdaq: CELG) announced that it has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a label expansion of its cancer drug, Abraxane.

Celgene gained approval to use Abraxane as a first-line combination therapy for treating patients suffering from locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Curative surgery or radiation therapy is not applicable for those patients.

The FDA approval of Abraxane for the additional indication was based on positive results from a phase III study (CA-031). We note that Abraxane is already available in the US as a second-line therapy for metastatic breast cancer. Approval for the new indication has boosted Abraxane's sales potential.

The NSCLC market is highly crowded and includes players, such as Sanofi (NYSE: SNY), Roche (OTC:RHHBY) and Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY).

We note that Celgene is also seeking approval for the NSCLC indication in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The regulatory authorities in those countries are expected to decide on the matter in 2013.

Moreover, Abraxane is being developed for other indications, such as metastatic pancreatic cancer (phase III MPACT study, data expected by year-end/the first quarter of 2013).

We note that an eagerly awaited event at Celgene concerns its oncology candidate, pomalidomide. Celgene is seeking approval of the candidate in combination with low-dose dexamethasone for the treatment of relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma patients, who have received at least two prior therapies. A final decision from the FDA is expected by February 10, 2013 (action date).

Our Recommendation

We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Celgene. The stock carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating) in the short run.

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