AbbVie shares fall in first day of 'when-issued' trading

Shares of AbbVie, the new offspring of drugmaker Abbott Laboratories ($ABT), will not trade until Jan. 2, but investors are getting their say at how to price them. And guess what? The AbbVie stock price fell in the first day of trading.

Shares in the divided companies began trading in the "when-issued" market, Bloomberg reported, a parallel universe that will set the price when the two companies begin trading individually on the first open day on U.S. markets in 2013. The closing price on Dec. 31 will be the opening price for Jan. 2, it said.

When-issued shares of Abbott opened the market at $29.05 and rose 4.3% to $30.30 when trading closed in the U.S. AbbVie when-issued shares, which Bloomberg said are trading under the ticker ABBV-W, opened at $37 and fell 5.4% to $35.

Abbott shareholders will receive one share of AbbVie's common stock for each Abbott share they own. They will carry the ticker symbol ABBV when they trade for real. Abbott raised $14.7 billion for the AbbVie spinoff in a record-setting bond issue in November. Once it's independent, some of AbbVie's cash will flow toward a promised $1.6 billion dividend, as well as ongoing R&D work that is essential to its long-term future.

In the short term, AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez will be leaning most heavily on Humira, its megablockbuster anti-inflammatory drug, which is expected to generate more than half of the projected $18-billion-plus in sales that AbbVie is expected to make in 2013. Humira is forecast to bring in nearly $9 billion this year, despite a slight slowdown in quarter-over-quarter growth for Q3. Humira is facing new competition from Pfizer's ($PFE) recently approved Xeljanz, but analysts think Humira can maintain its place. RBC Capital Markets' Glenn Novarro, for instance, has said he's sticking to his $10 billion sales forecast for Humira next year. 

- read the Bloomberg story

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