The Ticker: Opko Shares Plunge After Disappointing Trial Results for Growth Hormone Drug

El Al Airlines says tax authorities present it with 61 million-shekel assessment; Mobileye in partnership with digital-mapper HERE; Tel Aviv Stock Exchange starts 2017 trading on wrong foot.

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Phillip Frost, billionaire and chairman of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., arrives at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange to mark the listing of Opko Health Inc., of which he is the largest shareholder.
Opko Health Inc. CEO Phillip Frost.Credit: Bloomberg

Opko shares plunge after disappointing trial results for growth hormone drug

Shares of Opko Health plunged in Tel Aviv yesterday after the U.S. company said its experimental drug for growth hormone deficiency in adults failed to provide a statistically significant benefit over a placebo in a late-stage study. The company, which is developing hGH-CTP with Pfizer, said on Friday it had identified one or more outliers in the Phase III study that may have affected the trial and said it planned to review the results. GHD is a rare disorder characterized by the inadequate secretion of the growth hormone from the pituitary gland, an organ responsible for the production of multiple hormones. Opko said it was also striating Phase III trials for a pediatric version of GHD, which accounts for about 50% of the GHD market and, analysts say, is substantially more valuable for Opko because it would be eligible to receive double-digit royalty payments from Pfizer. Shares of Opko ended down 19.5% at 35.50 shekels ($9.22). (Yoram Gabison)

El Al Airlines says tax authorities present it with 61 million-shekel assessment

El Al Airlines was presented a 61-million-shekel ($15.8 million) tax bill from the Israel Tax Authority yesterday. The airline said this was connected to deductions the airline made for salaries and other costs during 2011 and 2012, and that it was studying the assessment and would likely appeal it. The bill would be quite substantial for El Al, which generated $83 million in profits on turnover of $1.6 billion in the first nine months of last year. On the other hand, Israel’s flagship carrier had tax-loss carry forwards totalling $448 million. In related news, employees of Israir learned yesterday there was a good chance the carrier would be merging with El Al before the final phase of the Open Skies accord with the European Union kicks in in 2018. The two sides have been holding talks for close to a year. Shares of El Al finished higher 0.45% at 2.56 shekels. (Yoram Gabison) 

Mobileye in partnership with digital-mapper HERE

Mobileye has formed a partnership with German digital-mapping company HERE. The two will join Mobileye’s Roadbook, which identifies and maps drivable routes in real-time with crowdsourced data, with HERE’s HD Live Map, to give self-driving cars information on road conditions beyond what its sensors pick up about its immediate surroundings A spinoff from Nokia, HERE is a joint venture between the German automakers by Audi, Daimler and BMW. Mobileye has been working with different companies for advanced driver assistance, including a tie-up with BMW and Intel and a joint project with auto parts maker Delphi. A day after the HERE deal, Mobileye said it was also forming a partnership with the Canadian company Lucid Motors, which plans to launch its first car, the Lucid Air, with a complete sensor set for autonomous driving. After jumping 9% on Thursday, Mobileye shares retreated 0.8% to close at $38.12 on Friday. (Omri Zerachovitz) 

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange starts 2017 trading on wrong foot

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange got off to 2017 on the wrong foot yesterday, with Opko Health leading biomed shares sharply lower. The blue chip TA-25 index ended down 0.7% for the day at 1,451.91 points, while the TA-100 shed 0.4% to 1,276.94, on turnover of 658 million shekels ($170.8 million). Bond prices were higher, with the government’s 10-year shekel bond ahead 0.34% to lower its yield to 2.01%, and the 10-year Galil up 0.32% to a yield of 0.53%. Drug stocks were higher, with Mylan advancing 2.3% to 149 shekels after the U.S. company said it had begun sales of a generic version of Janssen’s Concerta Tablets ADHD. Teva Pharmaceuticals was up 1.2% to 140. Real estate stocks were also higher, with Gazit Globe adding 3.6% to 34 and Norstar 4.35% to 61.14. Bank Leumi was down 0.1% to 15.84. Excellence predicted it would sell its Leumicard credit card unit before the end of the year. (Omri Zerachovitz)