Teva Shares Fall After U.S. House Democrats Launch Probe of MS Drug Prices

Business in Brief | Israel Electric posts massive loss of 382 million shekels in quarter ■ Golan Telecom surprises market with strong second-quarter profit ■ Tel Aviv shares end lower, despite last-minute energy rally

An employee collects newly manufactured pills from a machine at the tablet production plant at Teva Pharmaceuticals' headquarters in Jerusalem, September 19, 2011.
Adam Reynolds/Bloomberg

Teva shares fall after Congress launches probe of MS drug prices 

Shares of Teva Pharmaceuticals fell on Sunday after U.S. House Democrats said they were launching an investigation into why prices for multiple sclerosis treatments have nearly quintupled since 2004. Reps. Elijah Cummings and Peter Welch sent letters requesting information to Bayer, Biogen, Merck KGaA’s EMD Serono unit, Novartis, Roche Holding, Sanofi as well as Teva, which earns a major part of its profits from its Copaxone treatment for MS. The lawmakers on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said they were looking to determine whether drug companies were raising prices for MS drugs in lockstep with their competitors. The average annual cost of MS therapy rose to $78,000 in 2016 from $16,000 in 2004, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Previous congressional investigations into drug pricing practices have had far-reaching effects. Mylan sharply reduced the cost of EpiPen after the Oversight Committee began looking into the increases. Teva shares ended down 1.6% at 62.63 shekels ($17.33). (Reuters)

Israel Electric posts massive loss of 382 million shekels in quarter

State-owned Israel Electric Corporation sustained a massive 382 million shekel ($105.7 million) loss in the second quarter, leaving it with a first half loss of 66 million. The loss, which the utility reported over the weekend, came as revenue dropped 1% from a year earlier to 4.99 billion shekels. Operating costs rose 5% to 4.5 billion as the company made a 45 million shekel provision for pensions and an unexplained 309 million shekel increase in sales and marketing costs. Fuel costs rose by 100 million shekels, or 6%, due to increased use of natural gas and higher prices for coal, IEC said. Finance costs dropped by more than a third, or 486 million as the utility is in the midst of a drive to pay down debt, cutting it by 1.4 billion shekels last year and 500 million in the first half of 2017. At the end of June its obligations stood at 42.7 billion. (Avi Bar-Eli)

Golan Telecom surprises market with strong second-quarter profit

Electra Consumer Products shares soared on Sunday after its newly acquired Golan Telecom unit surprised investors by reporting a strong second-quarter profit. The market had expected the cellular operator to have a poor quarter because it was engaged in fierce price competition to stem an exodus of customers. But Electra said Golan earned 21 million shekels ($5.8 million) on revenues of 134 million shekels and said its market shares was 8.56% (16% not including business customers). At 38 million shekels, the net profit of Electra itself showed no change in the quarter but that was due to a large one-time increase in financial costs and costs connected with the sale of its Ace Depot retail unit. Operating prof, however, jumped 53% to 63 million. Electra, which acquired Golan in April, closed up 13.3% at 72.53 shekels in as trading volume swelled to four times its usual level. (Uri Tomer)

Tel Aviv shares end lower, despite last-minute energy rally

Tel Aviv shares ended lower on Sunday, despite a last-minute rally in energy shares. The TA-35 index finished down 0.4% at 1,389.29 points, while the TA-125 lost 0.3% to 1,256.40, on turnover of just 441 million shekels ($122 million). The oil and gas index rose 1.55% to 1,042.01 points after a Bloomberg news report (see story on this page) that Shell was interested in buying Israeli natural gas. Insurance shares were sharply lower, with declines of 1.9% to 21.15 shekels for Harel and 1.8% to 42.92 for Menorah. Migdal, which reported net profit grew sevenfold year-on-year to 141 million shekels in the second quarter, lost 0.2% to 3.60. Africa Israel Investment jumped 29.4% to 23 agorot after reports that the U.S. billionaire Bob Stark was interested in buying control of the company. Megureit sold 210 million shekels of bonds over the weekend at 1.5%, 60 million more than it planned after it received orders of about 450 million. (Uri Tomer)