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Johnson & Johnson Q4'19 EPS down 4.6% YOY; Wuhan coronavirus reaches US shores

Top news

* Johnson & Johnson, the world's largest healthcare company by market value, reported fourth-quarter 2019 earnings of $1.88 per share, down 4.6% year over year, and compared to the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate of $1.87. For full year 2020, J&J expects adjusted EPS to reach between $8.95 and $9.10.

* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first U.S. case of a novel coronavirus that is rapidly spreading through China. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said his agency is partnering with Moderna Inc. to develop a vaccine against the 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV.

The SARS-like virus, which causes pneumonia and can be transmitted between humans, has so far claimed the lives of nine individuals in China and has infected over 400 people, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Chinese health officials. The virus has also reached Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. In the meantime, North Korea shut its borders to foreign tourists amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Bloomberg News reported, citing two major tour operators.

* Biopharma companies will begin reporting 2019 fourth-quarter and full-year earnings this week with the world's largest drugmaker Johnson & Johnson scheduled to host a call with investors and analysts today, S&P Global Market Intelligence has a report.

"Similar to 2019, we think pharma stocks will gain momentum as 2020 unfolds, as concerns ease and solid fundamentals show through," Cowen analyst Steve Scala said in a Jan. 17 note. "But it's hard to envision a scenario in which pharma substantially outperforms the S&P 500 in 2020."

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* This week's edition of S&P Global Market Intelligence's Of Mice Not Men features: A study in mice honed in two neuron circuits that can curb appetite without the accompanying nausea; consuming soybean oil can lead to neurological changes; and a combo therapy proves better than a single drug to treat an acute type of blood cancer.

On the policy front

* U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there is no urgent reason why President Donald Trump should provide the healthcare plan he has promised Americans since he was on the 2016 campaign trail.

* Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to expedite its review of the Dec. 18, 2019, ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which said the ACA's individual mandate for Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty was unconstitutional. The Jan. 21 decision to not fast track the case means there is unlikely to be a Supreme Court ruling on the fate of the 2010 law before the November U.S. elections.

M&A and capital markets

* Elanco Animal Health Inc. plans to start concurrent offerings of 19,159,866 common shares and 11 million tangible equity units in order to finance part of its $7.6 billion acquisition of Bayer AG's animal health business.

* Bellicum Pharmaceuticals Inc. will sell certain assets, including its 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Houston, to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for $15 million.

* Arcutis Biotherapeutics Inc. plans to sell 7,812,500 common shares at a price of between $15 per share and $17 per share in its planned IPO.

Drug and product pipeline

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Horizon Therapeutics PLC's Tepezza, or teprotumumab-trbw, the first treatment for thyroid eye disease, a rare condition that causes inflammation and tissue expansion behind the eyes. Tepezza will cost $14,900 per vial, Reuters reported.

* GlaxoSmithKline PLC said belantamab mafodotin, or GSK2857916 — its lead experimental treatment for multiple myeloma — has been granted a priority review by the U.S. FDA, increasing the likelihood that it will be the first therapy of its kind on the market.

Operational activity

* Samsung Biologics Co.Ltd. said its fourth-quarter 2019 net income totaled 210.62 billion South Korean won, down 33.6% from 317.28 billion won a year earlier. For the full year, Samsung Biologics said net profit decreased 21.2% on an annual basis to 202.9 billion won from 224.11 billion won.

* North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Eli Lilly and Co. will invest more than $470 million in a new pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the state, which will create more than 460 jobs. The new manufacturing site in Durham County will produce parenteral products and delivery devices.

* GlaxoSmithKline was among companies that signed deals Jan. 20 at the U.K.-Africa Investment Summit in London. The London-based pharmaceutical company announced a £5 million investment in Egypt.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng gained 1.27% to 28,341.04, and the Nikkei 225 increased 0.70% to 24,031.35.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.02% to 7,608.82, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.15% to 1,163.07.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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