The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:AbbVie, Shire, Gilead Sciences, Sarepta Therapeutics and Celgene

CHICAGO, July 17, 2014 /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 the AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV-Free Report), Shire (Nasdaq: SHPG-Free Report), Gilead Sciences Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD-Free Report), Sarepta Therapeutics (Nasdaq: SRPT-Free Report) and Celgene Corp. (Nasdaq: CELG-Free Report).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Biotech Stock Roundup

AbbVie's (NYSE: ABBV-Free Report) efforts to acquire Ireland-based Shire (Nasdaq: SHPG-Free Report)remained the highlight last week. Meanwhile, Gilead Sciences Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GILD-Free Report) hepatitis C drug made it to the news yet again thanks to its price tag. Apart from this, companies like Sarepta Therapeutics (Nasdaq: SRPT-Free Report), Celgene Corp. (Nasdaq: CELG-Free Report) made it to the headlines on pipeline updates.

Overall, it was a mixed week for the biotech sector with the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index declining 0.54% (See the last biotech stock roundup here: Regado Plunges on Study Update, Jazz Gains on Product Acquisition Deal).

Recap of the Week's Most Important Stories

1. AbbVie, which has been looking to acquire Shire for a while now, came back with a fourth proposal last week. This time around, it looks like a deal can materialize with Shire indicating its willingness to recommend the offer to its shareholders provided certain other terms are resolved. If the acquisition goes through, AbbVie will join a string of U.S. health care companies that have been looking towards overseas acquisitions to lower their tax rates (Read more: Shire Meets AbbVie for Acquisition Deal).

2. Sarepta, which focuses on the discovery and development of RNA-based therapeutics for rare and infectious diseases, saw its shares tumbling on 144-week data on its experimental Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment, eteplirsen. Investors were disappointed with the 144-week data on decline in walking distance which was considered to be weaker than the 120-week data presented earlier this year. Despite this, Sarepta remains committed to file for regulatory approval in the U.S. by year end (Read more: Sarepta Plunges on Eteplirsen Study Results).

3. Celgene's Otezla failed to meet the primary endpoint in a phase III study evaluating the drug for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. Although disappointing, shares were not affected as expectations for this indication were already low. Otezla is currently approved for the treatment of active psoriatic arthritis (Read more: Celgene's Otezla Disappoints in Ankylosing Spondylitis Study).

5. Gilead's HCV treatment, Sovaldi, was back in the news as once again questions regarding its hefty price tag were raised. The last time questions were raised about Sovaldi's pricing, the biotech sector went through a major sell-off. The U.S. Senate has asked Gilead to provide it with information on Sovaldi as well as the Pharmasset acquisition. Sovaldi became a part of Gilead's portfolio following its acquisition of Pharmasset (Read more: Hefty Price Tag of Gilead's Sovaldi Questioned Again).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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