In a counter-industry trend (most pharma companies are enjoying higher ratings, due to their perceived defensive postures, in down-beat economic times) -- Leerink Swann, in the person of Seamus Fernandez -- just downgraded Schering-Plough:
January 30, 3009
TO: Market Perform
. . . .[S]aying there are no major catalysts for financial growth in the coming year. Fernandez based the downgrade on surveys with health care providers. . . .
Fernandez noted that 65 percent of cardiologists surveyed do not expect the [IMPROVE-IT -- due out in 2012] study to show a significant advantage for Vytorin. Fernandez also said that the slumping economy will only encourage doctors and patients to seek out cheaper, generic substitute drugs.
"We find it difficult to recommend that investors put new money to work in" Schering at this time, Fernandez concluded. . . .
Schering-Plough is trading below $17.70, this morning -- after an intra-day high of $19.99 as recently as January 26, 2009. That wasn't even four full days ago. The downgrade comes only two days before 2008 year-end results are to be announced, to boot. Ouch.