With predators knocking, Shire needs to go on the hunt, analysts say

They say the best defense is a good offense, and that just may be the case for Shire ($SHPG). Amid pharma's ongoing deal frenzy, the Dublin-based company--a prime target in light of its tax-friendly Irish locale--will need to make its own buys if it doesn't want to get swept up, analysts say.

And Shire may be doing just that. Reports last week listed the company as a potential suitor for NPS Pharmaceuticals, a $3.5 billion company. NPS Pharma boasts meds for short-bowel syndrome and hypoparathyroidism that would fit right in with Shire's rare-disease focus, Wedbush told the news service. Other potential targets could include Prosensa Holding ($RNA) or Sarepta Therapeutics ($SRPT) because of their muscular dystrophy assets.

"If they want to stay independent, then going on a bit of a shopping spree makes it harder for another entity to go after them," Piper Jaffray analyst David Amsellem told Bloomberg. "They will be approached. They probably have been approached."

If rumors hold any weight, that approach could come from Allergan ($AGN), which is eager to dodge its own predator, the M&A machine Valeant ($VRX). The Botox maker has reportedly already made one play for Shire, and sources told Reuters back in April that Allergan was preparing another.

Flemming Ornskov, CEO of Shire

Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov, though, has indicated that the company would rather hunt than be hunted, and his track record indicates as much. As Bloomberg notes, Shire has made at least 6 pickups since Ornskov took the reins, the biggest of which was ViroPharma, which it grabbed last year for $4.2 billion.

But if NPS is to be next, he'd better get moving, Janney Montgomery Scott managing director Kimberly Lee told the news service. Sanofi ($SNY) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) could also have eyes for the New Jersey company. And given the M&A wave and a recent jump in Shire's share price, the time to act is now, Navid Malike of Cenkos Securities told Bloomberg.

"Strike while the iron is hot," he said.

- read the Bloomberg story

Special Reports: Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of 2013 - Shire/ViroPharma | The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2013 - Flemming Ornskov - Shire