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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Bayer, Novartis, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Microsoft

CHICAGO, Feb. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com 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 Bayer (OTC:BAYRY), Novartis (NYSE:NVS), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Label Expansion for Bayer's Stivarga

Bayer's (OTC:BAYRY) Healthcare unit recently received encouraging news from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when the latter cleared the German company's Stivarga (regorafenib) for an additional indication.

The US regulatory body recently approved Stivarga for the treatment of patients suffering from locally advanced, unresectable or metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). The patients were previously treated with Novartis' (NYSE:NVS) Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) and Pfizer Inc.'s (NYSE:PFE) Sutent (sunitinib malate).

Stivarga is already available in the US for treating patients suffering from metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), whose disease had progressed even after treatment with the standard drugs prescribed for the disease.

The FDA approval for the new indication was based on encouraging data from a phase III study (GRID: n=199), which evaluated patients suffering from metastatic and/or unresectable GIST. The disease had progressed in the evaluated patients in spite of being previously treated with Gleevec and Sutent. Stivarga's label in the US carries a boxed warning citing the risk of hepatotoxicity.

Notably the FDA reviewed Bayer's oncology drug on a priority basis. We note that the US regulatory authority generally reviews those drugs on a priority basis, which offer major advances in treating diseases that do not have adequate therapy.

We expect the sales potential of Stivarga to be boosted further with the approval of the new indication (GIST). The good news came just before Bayer is gearing up for its fourth quarter announcement. Bayer will report its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2012 on Feb 28, 2013.

Bayer, a large cap pharma company, currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Another large cap pharma stock Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) also carries a comparable rank.

IRFC Selects Microsoft 365

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has chosen the Office 365 suite from the world's largest software maker Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT). The two entities signed a global Enterprise Agreement based on a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The reason for deploying the Office software is to equip IFRC's National Societies with advanced technologies such as cloud computing, which is expected to improve the efficiency of their operations and improve resource allocation. It will also facilitate communication and collaboration among its 1 million strong workforce i.e. volunteers and staff members and at the same time reduce IT expenses of the IFRC across the globe.

The American and Danish Red Cross Societies as well as the National Societies in Bangladesh and Namibia have already deployed Office 365 successfully. Other societies are expected to follow suit. Microsoft's software is enabling these societies to run their daily operations more efficiently.

Microsoft's Office 365 is a cloud-based, subscription-based software service. It was officially launched in 2011. The new Office comes with the traditional word processing, spreadsheets and email programs.

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