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AstraZeneca (AZN) CEO Rumor Reportedly Ends, Shares Rise


AstraZeneca plc’s AZN shares rose almost 5% on Friday after the company reportedly confirmed that its chief executive officer (CEO) Pascal Soriot is not quitting the company to join the generic drug-maker, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited TEVA.

AstraZeneca’s shares have impressively outperformed the Zacks classified Large Cap Pharma industry so far this year. The stock has jumped 24% compared with the broader industry’s increase of 11.8%.

We remind investors that last week on Thursday, AstraZeneca’s shares lost more than 4% after it was reported by an Israeli business newspaper Calcalist that Pascal Soriot will be filling in the shoes of Teva’s former CEO, Erez Vigodman, who stepped down in February.

However, AstraZeneca reportedly confirmed on Friday that Soriot will present the company’s earnings on July 27, which indicates the CEO is still with AstraZeneca. Teva’s shares dropped almost 4% on Friday.

Notably, Pascal Soriot has been serving AstraZeneca as a CEO since Oct 2012. Earlier, he served as the chief operating officer (COO) at Roche Pharmaceuticals RHHBY from 2010 to Sep 2012. Before that, he also served as the CEO of Genentech, where he led its successful merger with Roche.

Teva has been searching for a permanent CEO, which remains the company’s “highest priority.” Chairman Sol Barer, at the first quarter conference call, said that the company is looking for a top-notch CEO with “deep and broad pharmaceutical experience.”

Michael McClellan, CFO of the Global Specialty Medicines division, started serving as the Interim CFO, since Jul 1, 2017.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

AstraZeneca currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). A better-ranked stock in the healthcare sector is Sanofi SNY, sporting a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Sanofi’s earnings per share estimates nudged up from $3.08 to $3.18 for 2017 and from $3.26 to $3.30, over the last 60 days. The company delivered positive earnings surprises in two of the four trailing quarters with an average beat of 5.10%. Sanofi’s shares have rallied 19.1% so far this year.

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