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Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) News: Expectations Of What’s Next, Gettin’ Bond-y & More

Editor’s Note: Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), Petroleo Brasileiro Petrobras SA (NYSE:PBR), American Express Company (NYSE:AXP)

Feds offer more benefits to 390 laid-off Pfizer workers (TheDay)
Nearly 400 former workers at Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), including some who were working at the Groton laboratories as contractors for ExecuPharm Inc., have been told they qualify for federal benefits after their jobs were moved overseas. The U.S. Department of Labor, in a decision released this week, said 390 workers who were laid off after Sept. 5, 2011, or who are facing job separations through Oct. 25, 2014, are eligible for so-called Trade Adjustment Assistance, which includes extended unemployment benefits, relocation payments, help with tuition and, in some cases, wage subsidies.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)

Pfizer’s Buy Rating Reaffirmed at TheStreet (PFE) (DailyPolitical)
TheStreet reiterated their buy rating on shares of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday, Analyst Ratings Network reports. “Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a buy with a ratings score of A. The company’s strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and expanding profit margins. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.”,” TheStreet’s analyst wrote. PFE has been the subject of a number of other recent research reports.

Finding the Next Big Blockbuster Drug (SECFilings)
The pharmaceutical industry is largely centered on blockbuster drugs, with the top 20 drugs in the U.S. accounting for nearly $320 billion in sales in 2011. With five of those 20 drugs losing patent protection since then, there has been a high premium placed on finding the next big blockbuster drug on the part of companies and investors in the pharmaceutical industry. …Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)’s Lipitor® is a statin that works by blocking the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase in the liver in order to lower LDL cholesterol levels. The idea for a statin didn’t come from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) – far from it. Dr. Akira Endo discovered statins working for a small Tokyo drug company called Sankyo in 1971 after spending years searching through more than 6,000 microbes for an HMG-CoA inhibitor.

Pfizer to pick some contract manufacturers for new elevated role (FiercePharmaManufacturing)
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) “external partner management” process is not exactly “American Idol” and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)’s John F. Kelly is not exactly Simon Cowell, but this year the Pfizer Global Supply (PGS) unit will go through the exercise of turning a handful or two of its more than 200 contractors into stars. …Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)’s CEO Ian Read has been remaking the drug giant into a more efficient operation, selling off units and narrowing its focus to respond to the world it lives in since losing the patent on the all-time best-selling drug Lipitor.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)Petrobras, Merck Lead $54 Billion of Company Bond Sales in U.S. (Bloomberg)
Petroleo Brasileiro Petrobras SA (NYSE:PBR), the Brazilian state-run oil producer, and drugmaker Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) led at least $54 billion of bond sales in the U.S. this week, the most in more than four months, as relative yields widened. Petrobras raised $11 billion in the largest dollar-denominated deal by an emerging-market issuer, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) sold $6.5 billion of debt in a six-part offering. Sales rose from last week’s $45.6 billion and compare with an average of $29.5 billion during the past 12 months.

Fitch Rates Merck & Co.’s Proposed Debt ‘A+’ (MarketWatch)
Fitch Ratings has assigned an ‘A+’ rating to Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) public issuance of $6.5 billion of senior unsecured notes comprising six tranches. Proceeds from the senior unsecured debt are expected to be used for general corporate purposes, including share repurchases. A complete list of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)’s ratings is provided at the end of this release. On May 1, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) expanded its share repurchase program by $15 billion to $16.3 billion. The company intends to use debt issuances, in part, to repurchase $7.5 billion worth of shares over the next 12 months with the timing of the remaining buybacks to be open-ended.

Merck & Co. faces employment discharge complaint by former worker (PennRecord)
A former employee of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is suing the drugmaker in federal court over allegations that the defendant committed civil rights violations when it discharged the man after refusing to reassign the plaintiff to a position he had been promised. Manuel Matos, who resides in Lansdale, Montgomery County, worked as a plumber and pipefitter for the pharmaceutical manufacturer from May 1999 until September 2007, making about $90,000-plus per year in the hourly union position, the complaint states. That fall, a former supervisor recommended that Matos be promoted, after which the plaintiff accepted a management position as a production supervisor.

AmEx, Merck Lead $16.5 Billion of Company Bond Issuance in U.S. (Bloomberg)
American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), the biggest credit-card issuer by purchases, and drugmaker Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) led borrowers selling or planning to issue at least $16.5 billion of bonds in the U.S. today. Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), which yesterday had its unsecured debt rating cut one level by Moody’s Investors Service, sold $6.5 billion of bonds in six parts to fund share repurchases, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The biggest slice of the issue from Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was for $1.75 billion of 2.8 percent, 10-year notes that yield 87 basis points more than similar-maturity Treasuries, Bloomberg data show. That compares with a 75 basis-point spread on $1 billion of 2.4 percent bonds due 2022 that the drugmaker sold in September.

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