Merck and AiCuris Ink Agreement and 2 Stocks Hitting 52-Week Highs

Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK) and AiCuris announced that they have entered into an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement for AiCuris’s novel portfolio of investigational medicines targeting Human Cytomegalovirus, or HCMV, including Letermovir, or AIC246, an oral, late-stage antiviral candidate being investigated for the treatment and prevention of HCMV infection in transplant recipients. Under the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will gain worldwide rights to develop and commercialize AiCuris candidates in the HCMV portfolio. AiCuris will receive a EUR110 million payment upfront, and is eligible for milestone payments of up to EUR332.5 million, based on successful regulatory and commercialization goals for HCMV candidates, which will include Letermovir, an additional back-up candidate as well as other Phase I candidates designed to act via an alternate mechanism. In addition, AiCuris will be entitled to receive royalty payments reflecting the advanced stage of the clinical program on any potential products that result from the agreement. Merck will be responsible for all development activities and costs. Closing of the transaction is contingent upon obtaining clearance from the relevant authorities. Their shares closed at $46.59, up $0.97 or 2.13% on the day. They have traded in a 52-week range of $32.19 to $46.54.

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) recently announced top line results from a Phase 3 open-label long-term safety study of investigational agent ALO-02 (Oxycodone Hydrochloride and Naltrexone Hydrochloride extended-release capsules) in patients with moderate-to-severe chronic, non-cancer pain. Their shares closed at $25.57, up $0.45 or 1.79% on the day. They have traded in a 52-week range of $18.15 to $25.59.

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Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT): According to Reuters, in the months since a $7.2 billion settlement with Visa (NYSE:V) and Mastercard (NYSE:MA), over “swipe fees” was filed, a number of major retailers including Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and several trade groups have opposed the deal and asked to have it blocked. The credit card companies and retailers that do support the plan will ask a judge to approve it this week, in spite of the objections. Their shares closed at $77.15, up $1.34 or 1.77% on the day. They have traded in a 52-week range of $54.48 to $76.81.

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