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Springtime for Pharma: A Big Week Ahead For Earnings

Friday, 18 Apr 2008 | 12:01 PM ET
Click for more earnings info

The irreverent producers of "Squawk on the Street" who are stationed in the pod next to mine here at CNBC like to call it "Pharmapalooza." They're referring to weeks like the one coming up when nearly every big drug company reports earnings.

Merck, Eli Lilly and Novartis get the party started on Monday morning. Wyeth weighs in on Tuesday. Schering-Plough, which will probably get the most attention because of the Vytorin-Zetia impact, is out on Wednesday along with GlaxoSmithKline. And Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca bring up the rear on Thursday.

Thursday is also when Pfizer is holding its annual shareholder meeting in Memphis. We plan to be there. Even though shareholder meetings are usually tightly controlled and orchestrated, this one has the potential for some fireworks. On the heels of yesterday's bad earnings report and the stock hitting about a 10-year low there could be some angry shareholders in attendance.

The last Pfizer meeting I covered was a couple or three years ago in Lincoln, Nebraska when union members whose pension funds owned PFE were protesting the pay package of then-embattled Chairman and CEO Hank McKinnell. He was soonafter pushed out with a couple hundred million dollars in his pocket. While critics might suggest companies--not just Pfizer--like to hold shareholder meetings off the beaten track to stay out of the glare of the media spotlight and to keep big numbers of investors from showing up, Pfizer says it likes to move around its annual get-togethers to cities and towns where it has a corporate presence.

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Lincoln has a big veterinary medicine operation and Memphis has a drug distribution center. It's not uncommon, though, for big multinationals including CNBC's parent company General Electric, to hold shareholder meetings in different locales from year to year.

One other earnings report that could be worth watching on Monday morning is the one from Amylin Pharmaceuticals. It comes out around the same time as LLY because they're partners on the diabetes drug Byetta. And while the stock could trade around the Byetta sales numbers, investors will also be paying attention to any news in the press release or on the conference call about a once-a-week version of Byetta.

The drug uses technology to make it last longer from Alkermes. Major test results on that drug, which many analysts believe has multi-billion-dollar blockbuster potential, are expected to be presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in early June. And the companies could file for Food and Drug Administration approval of it next year.

So, it's gonna be a very busy week. Given the incredible time constraints of TV, we can't possibly give every company's report the same coverage. I got a call late in the trading day earlier this week from a top PR person at a big drug company asking me why I wasn't covering their earnings report, especially after the numbers, the spokesperson said, were so good. That's the first time I've gotten an inquiry like that. And the tactic doesn't work. The stock, by the way, was lower.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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