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Drug Earnings Deluge

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The Big Pharma earnings season is in full swing with Pfizer (PFE), Eli Lilly (LLY) and Wyeth (WYE) out Thursday and Merck (MRK) and Schering-Plough (SGP) reporting Monday. What’s the trade as the drug companies deal with their ailing pipelines?

CNBC’s Mike Huckman said Pfizer’s “bombshell” announcement that it will cease selling its once-promising inhalable insulin product Exubera took down a number of stocks in the diabetes care industry, including Lilly, Alkermes (ALKS), MannKind (MNKD) and Nektar (NKTR). The latter – Pfizer’s partner in Exubera – plunged 17% on the news, Huckman reported.

Going forward, analysts expect Merck to see growth from its HPV vaccine but Schering-Plough could be the big story, said Huckman. According to a Deutsche Bank analyst, SGP is the most-levered of all the drug companies to international growth and appers poised to benefit from the weak dollar when it reports Monday.

Jeff Macke is bullish on the entire drug complex. He proposed that biotech and pharma companies team up. Pharma has plenty of cash but no pipeline; biotech has the pipeline but no cash, he said, calling it a “match made in heaven.”

To that end, Karen Finerman hopes Merck puts a bid in for Biogen (BIIB).

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
ZE48
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DTST
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LLY
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MNKD
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MRK
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NKTR
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PFE
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Trader disclosure: On Oct 18, 2007, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Macke Owns (INTC); Najarian Owns ( C), (GOOG)(CY); Najarian Owns (SNDK) Options; Finerman Owns (C), (GS); Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (ASD), (KALU); Finerman's Firm Owns (NYX), (MSFT), (LTD), (BIIB), (BEAS), (COP), (TGT), (VMSI), (WMT); Finerman's Firm Owns S&P 500 Index Puts; Finerman's Firm Owns Russell 2000 Index Puts