Gilead's exec search won't hurt its deal search: CEO

Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day still needs to fill several key exec positions. (Gilead China)

New Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day has some major holes to fill when it comes to executive hiring. But he insists the C-suite search won’t slow the company’s search for M&A targets.

“I think they can both very much happen in parallel,” he said on Gilead’s second-quarter conference call Tuesday of staffing up and scouting deals. “I don’t see any slowdown at all in our ability to proceed to have corporate development during this period where we’re still recruiting key individuals.”

RELATED: Longtime Gilead CFO Washington set to retire, leaving new CEO O'Day a hole to fill

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One key individual O’Day will have to recruit? A new chief financial officer to replace Robin Washington, who will vacate the position next year after a lengthy stint. But “we’ll certainly have a good transition of a CFO before Robin leaves,” O’Day assured investors, and until then, “Robin’s appetite to continue to grow the portfolio is good, isn’t it, Robin?” he joked on the call.

“Very high,” she answered.

The exchange was music to the ears of some investors, who are eager to see Gilead pull off more deals—even in the wake of its recently announced Galapagos pact.

“The perennial question that remains unanswered is ‘how will GILD put its balance sheet to work?’” JPMorgan analyst Cory Kasimov wrote in a Tuesday note to clients.

RELATED: Gilead inks $5B upfront deal to gain broad access to Galapagos' pipeline 

In the meantime, though, Gilead’s current business is delivering. In the second quater, HIV once again stole the show as new launch Biktarvy blew past analyst expectations of $974 million with $1.1 billion in quarterly sales. But even sales of Gilead’s products for hepatitis C and CAR-T, two areas that have given the biotech recent trouble, surpassed forecasts.

“Q2 generally looks good all-around and consistent w/our turn-around thesis,” Jefferies analyst Michael Yee wrote in a note to clients.

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