The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Virgin Media, Vodafone Group, Sanofi, Novartis and Biogen Idec

   The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Virgin Media, Vodafone Group, Sanofi,
                           Novartis and Biogen Idec

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Nov. 26, 2012

CHICAGO, Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- announces the list of stocks
featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts
discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.
Stocks recently featured in the blog include Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq:VMED),
Vodafone Group (Nasdaq:VOD), Sanofi (NYSE:SNY), Novartis (NYSE:NVS) and Biogen
Idec (Nasdaq:BIIB).


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Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Virgin to Charge for Underground WiFi

Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq:VMED) – a leading entertainment and communication
service provider in the U.K. is planning to charge people for using its WiFi
underground network in London from January 2012 onwards.

Higher adoption of tablets and smartphones has propelled demand for internet
data, thereby exerting more pressure on network traffic. Moreover, with the
growing popularity of numerous social networking sites, people always like to
stay connected with their loved ones, which isn't always possible, at times
when they are in an underground metro due to network unavailability. More than
700,000 people using underground metro remains connected to Wi-Fi network.

So, by looking at the needs of the people as well as by shifting the huge data
load from its network, Virgin Media has rolled out Wi-Fi network services in
and around the city of London especially at underground metro stations where
the network is quite weak.

Previously, Virgin Media had set a target of offering its Wi-Fi network
services across 120 underground metro stations by the end of 2012. Till now,
the company has been able to cover 72 stations and plans to add 20 more
stations by the end of this year with further inclusion of 28 stations by the
beginning of next year.

Earlier, the Wi-Fi network service was freely available to other telecom
subscribers. However, from the next year onwards they will be charged £2 per
day, thereby creating another revenue stream for the company going forward.

However, the underground Wi-Fi network service will remain free for its own
broadband and mobile customers, Vodafone Group (Nasdaq:VOD) and EE telecom

However, we also remain highly apprehensive about the success of the new
revenue stream as both Vodafone and EE, will get the underground WiFi service
free of cost, which constitute 76% of the total customers in Greater London.

We are maintaining our long-term Neutral recommendation on Virgin Media Inc.
Currently; it has a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term Hold rating on the

Sanofi MS Drug Gets Nod in Australia

Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) and its subsidiary Genzyme recently announced that their
oral candidate for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS), Aubagio
(teriflunomide) 14 mg, has received Australian Therapeutic Goods
Administration (TGA) approval. The TGA approved Aubagio as a once-daily
treatment for patients with RMS.

We note that Australia is the second country where Aubagio received approval.
On September 12, 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved
Aubagio as a once-daily treatment for patients with RMS. Aubagio is currently
under regulatory review in the EU with a final decision expected in the first
quarter of 2013.

The Australian approval came on the basis of data from a pivotal phase III
study (TEMSO) in patients with RMS. In the trial, Aubagio demonstrated
promising efficacy and safety profile.

Competition in the oral multiple sclerosis (MS) market is intense. Novartis'
(NYSE NVS ) Gilenya already has a lead in the oral MS market with the product
being approved in September 2010. Another major competitor could be Biogen
Idec's (Nasdaq:BIIB) BG-12, which is currently under regulatory review in the
US and EU.

We are pleased with Sanofi's progress with its pipeline. Over the last few
months, several of Sanofi's pipeline candidates gained approval including US
approval of Aubagio for RMS and US approval of Zaltrap (aflibercept) as a
combination therapy for treatment-experienced patients suffering from
metastatic colorectal cancer. Recently, the CHMP also recommended the approval
of Zaltrap and diabetes candidate, Lyxumia (lixisenatide).

We expect Sanofi to continue to contain operating costs in order to increase
earnings in the face of weakening sales of some of its biggest products. We
also expect the company to pursue bolt-on acquisitions.

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