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Why Did Teva Pharmaceuticals Stock Soar Today?

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Shares of Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA - Free Report) opened more than 15% higher on Monday after the struggling drugmaker picked H. Lundbeck (HLUYY - Free Report) chief Kare Schultz to fill its long-vacant CEO role.

Schultz, who has been at the helm of H. Lundbeck since May 2015, is set to take over at Teva, a generics giant that has been without a permanent CEO for more than seven months. The new job promises to present several interesting challenges for Schultz, as changing industry trends and an increasingly competitive market environment have led to significant headwinds for Teva.

In fact, Teva’s debt load has swelled to a whopping $35 billion following its acquisition of Allergan’s (AGN - Free Report) generics division, and the company is now under pressure to shed assets in an effort to pay down some of this debt.

According to Bloomberg, Schultz will likely be encouraged to consider splitting the company—with one business focused specifically on specialty medicines and another maintaining its generics operations.

Last month, reports emerged that Teva was considering the sale of Medis, an Iceland-based generic drug manufacturer. Other rumors suggested that the company is considering the sale of its respiratory treatment assets. Regardless, it’s clear that more deals will need to come.

In the wake of Teva’s lackluster Q2 earnings, management slashed its full-year outlook, cut its dividend by 75%, and said that asset sales will likely generate at least $2 billion—well above the $1 billion level that was previously forecasted.

However, Teva’s scramble to pay down its debt has not satisfied everyone. Recently, Moody’s said that Teva’s debt reduction has been slower than expected and lowered its credit rating. Of course, investors have also punished the company. Prior to today, Teva shares were down more than 57% year-to-date, and the stock is currently sporting a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Nevertheless, Schultz seems up to the task. Speaking to Bloomberg Television earlier today, the new CEO said that he is “the kind of person who likes challenge and [is] inspired by challenges.” Schultz continued by saying that “it’s important to work very fast and create a clear strategy and bring the company on strategic course.”

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