Teva Shares Fall Amid Investor Worries FDA May Delay Launch of Migraine Treatment

Business in Brief | Frutarom shareholders approve acquisition by IFF but reject payout to CEO ■ Strauss Group’s net profit rose 14% in second quarter ■ Housing & Construction quickly removed from business concentration list

A Teva building seen in Jerusalem.
\ Ammar Awad/ REUTERS

Teva shares fall amid investor worries FDA may delay launch of migraine treatment

Teva Pharmaceuticals shares fell sharply in late trading in New York on Monday amid concerns the drug maker will suffer more delays getting U.S. Food and Administration approval for its Ajovy migraine treatment. Teva shares went from a gain of 4.7% to close down 0.3% after the FDA said it issued a letter to Celltrion, the Korean company making Ajovy’s active ingredient fremanezumab for Teva, concerning quality-control issues at its Incheon City plant. But Teva sources said it remained confident the FDA would approve Ajovy by mid-September as originally expected. Troubles at Celltrion have already delayed the launch of Ajovy, which Teva is counting on to become a best-seller with sales of as much as $1.7 billion annually by 2025. However, the company faces tough competition from, among others, Amgen, which launched its Aimovig drug in May. Teva shares ended up 1.9% at 85.05 shekels ($23.09) in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. (Yoram Gabison)

Frutarom shareholders approve acquisition by IFF but reject payout to CEO

Frutarom shareholders on Tuesday approved the company’s being bought by International Flavors & Fragrances but they declined to reward CEO Ori Yehudai a generous $20 million bonus for engineering the deal. The $7.1 billion acquisition by U.S.-based IFF, which was announced last May, was backed by 94.65% of shareholders but 70.7% voted against the bonus. Last month, one major institutional investor, the Amitim pension fund, said it opposed the payout to Yehudai saying a one-time cash payment did nothing to ensure the long-term interest of Frutarom shareholders, who will be getting paid in a combination of cash and IFF shares. Amitim lauded the CEO for his role in the acquisition but urged Frutarom’s board to restructure the bonus. While denying Yehudai his bonus, shareholders did approve more modest payments of $2 million to three top executives. Frutarom, an Israeli maker of flavors and fragrances, shares ended down 0.2% at 376 shekels ($102.09). (Yoram Gabison)

Strauss Group’s net profit rose 14% in second quarter

Strauss Group reported on Tuesday a 14% rise in second quarter net profit, boosted by growth in Israel and in its international dips and spreads business. The maker of snacks, dairy goods and coffee earned an adjusted 112 million shekels ($30.3 million), up from 97 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 3% to 2.1 billion shekels. Excluding foreign currency effects, organic sales growth was 6.4%. Giora Bardea, interim CEO at Strauss, said the company outperformed in the domestic market due to product innovation and diversification. “The group’s international activity, which accounts for around half of its revenue, continues to expand, and we plan to maintain this strategy going forward,” he said. Coffee sales fell 0.3% to 978 million shekels, but grew 5.5% excluding foreign exchange effects. Sales at its international dips and spreads joint ventures with PepsiCo rose 10.7% as the business recovered from a hummus recall in 2016. Strauss shares rose 4.8% to 78 shekels. (Reuters)

Housing & Construction quickly removed from business concentration list

Less than 24 hours after control of Housing & Construction Limited passed from Shari Arison to Naty Saidoff, Israel’s Antitrust Authority removed the company from the list of companies barred from government contracts because they belong to big holding groups. H&C had been unable to bid for any of the 6 billion shekel ($1.6 billion) contracts on the Jerusalem Light Rail extension after the government’s Committee for Reducing Concentration prohibited it from doing so, citing the fact that Arison was also controlling shareholder of Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s biggest lender. The business concentration list of companies is ordinarily updated annually, but sources at the Antitrust Authority said they moved so quickly this time in order to enable H&C to prepare bids for the light rail work and asserted that the decision wasn’t unprecedented. Saidoff, an Israeli who made his fortune in Los Angeles real estate, has no other major holdings in Israel. H&C shares ended up 2.2% at 7.24 shekels. (Ora Coren)

Tel Aviv shares extend their gains

Tel Aviv shares extended gains on Tuesday as a higher Wall Street pushed the TA-35 into plus territory. The benchmark index and the TA-125 both closed just 0.1% higher at 1,606.96 and 1,431.21 points, respectively, on turnover of 1.17 billion shekels ($320 million). Among gainers, SodaStream added 2.9% to close at 441.40 shekels, marking a 40% jump since it reported quarterly earnings at the start of the month. Mazor Robotics continued to sink on its disappointing quarterly results, losing another 5.8% to 89.49 and bringing its loss since the start of the month to 21%. Kamada fell 4.5% to 20.60, despite turning in earnings of 14 cents a share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 9 cents. Elbit Systems rose 0.4% to 442.20 after winning an $85 million contract from Israel’s Defense Ministry. Sapiens rose 4.2% to 40.15  after reporting adjusted earnings of 13 cents a share, 1 cent above expectations. (Michael Rochvarger)