Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan appeared on Mad Money Friday for the second time this week. His visit comes just two days after announcing $1 billion worth of cost cuts and a 10% reduction in staff to offset losses from reduced Vytorin sales.
Vytorin, the company’s successful cholesterol drug, took a major hit after expert cardiologists scoffed at the pill’s effectiveness during a conference last weekend. SGP stock plunged to a Monday, March 31 open of $14.05 from the previous Friday’s close of $19.47. Four days later, SGP is barely above $16.
The fallout’s a U.S.-only problem, Hassan told Cramer, adding that Schering’s overseas cholesterol business is doing well. That’s why most of the cost cutting will happen here in the States.
Hassan brushed off any notion that Schering would be taken over by Johnson & Johnson or another big pharma company now that the stock’s dropped so much, saying that Schering management is “doing a very good job.”
Despite all Schering’s done in the past few days, Wall Street analysts still cut their earnings estimates for the company. But that’s just a “natural emotional reaction to what happened,” Hassan said, who wavered between an understanding of Wall Street’s response and anger at the cardiologists who publicly dismissed his drug without allowing for "open scientific discussion."
"There is no science behind all this," Hassan said of the panel's claims. "A few vocal critics made a big noise and got a lot of coverage, and the silent majority did not get heard."
More temperate voices seem to contradict the panel, lending legitimacy, maybe, to Hassan's frustrations.
There didn’t seem to be any consensus on where those analyst estimates should be, though, Cramer pointed out, and he wondered if Schering should offer some guidance. “We will do our very best once things settle down,” Hassan said.
Cramer’s call: “I think there’s a lot of upside here,” he said, citing one bullish analyst's projections that Schering should have the second-highest drug-approval rate in the industry from 2008 to 2012, and that the Kenilworth, N.J., firm ranks number one when the potential sales from these drugs is compared to the company's size. But still, Cramer cautioned viewers on SGP. “I think it’s grossly undervalued, but remember – I’ve been wrong.”
Jim's charitable trust owns Schering-Plough.
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