Biogen, a biotech company based in Cambridge, Mass. highlighted its M&A strategy during its second quarter earnings call July 21, in addition to announcing that its CEO, George Scangos, is stepping down.
"We would look at deals at all stages of development," George Scangos, the company's CEO who announced his resignation during the call said. "We are in a number of discussions now."
The company also noted that it's primarily looking into targets within the neurology sector of biotech.
But the fact that Scangos has decided to step down has led some to believe that the company will opt to sell itself or split up.
Analyst Michael Yee of RBC Capital said during an interview that the company could be purchased by Roche (RHHBY) , which already has a partnership with the company.
He also noted that the company has activist investors like Sarissa Capital on its board, which could heighten the chances of a sale.
Analyst Brian Skorney of Robert W. Baird & Co. agreed that Roche is a likely buyer of Biogen, if the company goes up for sale, He added that other potential buyers include Pfizer (PFE - Get Report) , Sanofi (SNY - Get Report) and Allergan (AGN - Get Report) .
but noted that its value may be hard to gauge because of uncertain prospects for a treatment it has under development for Alzheimer's Disease.
"I think the big complicating factor for Biogen is any acquirer would be paying something for their Alzheimer's program," Skorney said, nothing that there are serious doubts that the molecule the company is researching will work.
Concerns about Biogen's pipeline recently led Jim Cramer, founder of The Deal's parent, TheStreet, and portfolio manager of the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust, to close out the portfolio's position in the stock.
The company, which has a market cap of $62.95 billion, was trading at $286.61 per share Friday morning.
Yee nonetheless has a price target of $375 per share on Biogen. "I think the big complicating factor for Biogen is any acquirer would be paying something for their Alzheimer's program," he said, noting that the company is currently researching a controversial molecule for the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease that may not actually work to treat it.
Some, though, like analyst Ronny Gal of Bernstein, see Scangos' step down as less of a signal that company will be up for sale.
"He wants to leave, the company's in good shape," Gal said. "May we all be so lucky."
So who could be targets for Biogen?
"That would be a great deal for them," Skorney said. He has a takeout price on Neurocrine at $84 per share, putting a potential purchase price around $7.28 billion based on shares outstanding.
Still, a deal may call into question Biogen's share buyback plan. The company launched a $5 billion debt raise in September 2015, presumably to fund acquisitions. However, during the company's July 21 earnings call, Biogen announced a $5 billion share buyback plan in hopes of raising the price of its stock.
Skorney said this decision "perplexing."
"When they did the debt raise, the conclusion was that they were doing that to start making deals happen," Skorney, adding that there's a clear need for Biogen to do some type of deal.
Biogen could not be reached for further comment. Acadia and Neurocrine also could not be reached for immediate comment.