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Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA - Analyst Report) reported that it has launched its generic version of AbbVie’s (ABBV - Analyst Report) cholesterol management treatment, Niaspan (niacin extended-release) tablets (500, 750, and 1000 mg) in the U.S.

The launch of generic Niaspan is one of the most important generic product launches at Teva this year and should boost the performance of the generics business. With Teva being the first to file, the company will enjoy 180 days of marketing exclusivity. As per IMS data, as of Jun 30, 2013, Niaspan annual sales were approximately $1.12 billion in the U.S.

We note that the performance of Teva’s U.S. generics business was soft in the second quarter of 2013 with revenues declining 8% to $970 million. Lower sales of generic Lexapro, no royalties on generic Lipitor and lower sales of generic Avapro led to the decline in revenues. However, Teva expects the generics business to pick up in the second half of the year. 20-25 generic product launches are slated for 2013.

Teva currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The company is going through a tough transition period given fewer large generic opportunities, potential new competition for branded products (especially Copaxone) and a higher cost base.

However, we are encouraged by Teva’s plans to improve its position. Teva said that it intends to accelerate growth platforms, protect and expand core franchises, expand its global presence, pursue strategic deals and reduce the cost base. We expect investor focus to remain on the execution of the company’s new strategy.

At present, companies like Actavis, Inc. (ACT - Analyst Report) and Akorn, Inc. (AKRX - Snapshot Report) look well-positioned with both being Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stocks.

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