* Teva sees 2014 EPS ex-items $4.20-$4.50 with Copaxone
* Sees 2014 EPS ex-items $4.80-$5.10 without competition
* Analysts forecast 2014 EPS of $4.94 - Thomson Reuters
* Shares up 1.5 pct in New York trade
By Tova Cohen
TEL AVIV, Dec 10 Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
forecast a sharp drop in profit next year if rivals
are allowed to launch cheaper versions of its most profitable
drug, multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone.
Teva, the world's biggest generic drugmaker, faces
competition after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an earlier
ruling to strip the company's $4 billion-a-year Copaxone of
patent protection in 2014, rather than 2015.
The imminent loss of protection to its top branded drug
comes as Teva searches for a new chief executive following the
abrupt departure of Jeremy Levin in October. He resigned after a
clash with Chairman Phillip Frost leaving the company's
direction and decision-making process in doubt.
Israel-based Teva, which itself makes copycat versions of
other companies' drugs, lost its patent fight against two teams
that are developing generic forms of Copaxone: Novartis AG
and Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc ; and another
between Mylan Inc and Natco Pharma Ltd.
The competitors would have to get approval from the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration before they could launch cheaper
versions of Copaxone, which analysts say could come as early as
Teva on Tuesday gave two sets of forecasts for next year -
one assuming the launch of at least two generic competitors to
Copaxone in the United States on June 1 after the patent expires
and the other assuming no competition.
Teva estimated it will earn $4.20 to $4.50 a share on an
adjusted basis on revenue of $19.3 billion to $20.3 billion with
competition and $4.80-$5.10 a share on revenue of $19.8 billion
to $20.8 billion without.
Analysts had forecast the company would earn $4.94 a share
on revenue of $20 billion in 2014, according to Thomson Reuters
I/B/E/S. But that consensus contains some forecasts that assume
competition and some that don't, so is not directly comparable.
This year, analysts project Teva will earn $4.99 per share
on revenue of $20.1 billion.
Teva shares were up 1.5 percent to $40.74 in early New York
trade on relief that its forecasts were roughly in line with
Teva shares have risen only 9 percent this year due to its
uncertain future particularly with regards to Copaxone. It has
sharply underperformed rivals Mylan, up 60 percent and Momenta,
up 49 pct since the start of the year.
Cowen & Co analyst Ken Cacciatore said Teva investors were
more interested in who the company picks as its new chief
"That decision will likely more than outweigh any 2014-2015
financial guidance and is clearly much more critical for future
value creation," Cacciatore said.
Acting chief executive and former finance chief Eyal Desheh
told a conference call of analysts that finding a new CEO was a
He said 2014 would be a "pivotal year" for Teva which plans
to cut 5,000 jobs, or 10 percent of its workforce, as it
prepares for competition to Copaxone.
He said the company will focus its efforts on its generics
business and research and development programmes, including
high-value complex generics and promising specialty medicines,
where it anticipates six important launches.
Separately, Teva said its vice chairman Moshe Many has
decided to leave his position on Jan. 1 for personal reasons but
will remain a board member. He will be replaced by Amir Elstein,
who is stepping down as chairman of holding company Israel Corp