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Vertex Terminates COO Ian Smith on Code of Conduct Violation

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Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX - Free Report) announced the termination of Ian Smith from the post of chief operating officer (“COO”) and interim chief financial officer (“CFO”) with immediate effect. Smith served the company in several leading positions for more than 17 years.

The company stated that the decision was taken following Smith’s violation of Vertex’s code of conduct and values and is in no way related to the company’s financial performance. The decision was based on the outcome of a prompt and comprehensive investigation by the company assisted by independent external counsel, WilmerHale. However, the company did not provide any specific details regarding the violation.

Vertex has appointed chief accounting officer, Paul Silva, as the interim CFO while it continues its formal search to identify a permanent CFO.

Shares of Vertex have increased 13.4% in the past year against the industry’s decline of 23%.

Vertex has a strong portfolio of approved cystic fibrosis (“CF”) drugs which have been consistently driving the company’s revenues higher. The marketed drugs — Kalydeco, Orkambi and Symdeko — generated almost $2.2 billion in first nine months of 2018. The latest entrant, Symdeko, has witnessed rapid uptake and strong demand, which is likely to continue. The company also has an impressive CF pipeline including two next-generation CFTR correctors with potential to treat up to 90% of CF patient population.

Apart from CF pipeline, Vertex is also developing a pain candidate and co-developing a gene editing treatment, CTX001 in partnership with CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP - Free Report) .

The company is set to release fourth-quarter 2018 earnings on Feb 5. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings and revenues is pegged at $1.05 per share and $822.5 million, respectively. Moreover, our proven model indicates that Vertex is likely to beat on earnings this quarter to be reported.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Vertex currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector include Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (ACOR - Free Report) and Aduro Biotech, Inc. (ADRO - Free Report) , both sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Acorda’s loss per share estimates have narrowed 2.1% for 2019 in the last 30 days.

Aduro’s loss per share estimates have narrowed 4.5% for 2019 over the past 30 days.

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