The WSJ’s „Heard on the Street” colim discusses AstraZeneca (AZN), whose CEO took the co over almost a year ago. Some investors worry the co's problems are mounting faster than CEO David Brennan can fix them, raising concerns about AstraZeneca's long-term future. After disclosing late last month that another of its experimental drugs had failed in human testing, the co now has just one product, a cardiovascular drug, in its pipeline with the potential to contribute to sales before 2010, analysts say. Even though Mr. Brennan and his predecessor have managed to deliver strong earnings in recent quarters by slashing costs and marketing existing products well, most of AstraZeneca's fat has been cut. Some investors fear sales of AstraZeneca's biggest drug, the heartburn medication Nexium, will suffer as managed-care co’s in the US force their patients to use lower-cost generic versions. Anne Marieke Ezendam, of Threadneedle Global Healthcare Fund, said she sold all of her AstraZeneca stock in the past 6 weeks. The trigger, she says, was UnitedHealth's announcement in Sep that it would stop paying for Nexium. She fears other big health plans will follow suit. "I think they will have a real struggle next year" getting Nexium onto the lists of approved drugs that health plans revise periodically, she said.
The Barron’s Online reports that ValueAct Capital has expanded its holdings of Hanover Compressor (HC). ValueAct shelled out a total of $20.2m for 1,140,900 Hanover shares. With its "very aggressive" spate of buying over the last 2 months, ValueAct is now Hanover's largest shareholder, notes Ben Silverman, of InsiderScore.com. ValueAct now holds 11.6m shares, or 11.2%.