JPMorgan, Goldman push Eisai to short-stock crown

Drugmaker Eisai has the dubious honor of becoming most-shorted Japanese stock. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs both raised their bets against Eisai shares, gambling that the impending loss of Aricept's patent protection will send the stock south.

JPMorgan now holds $380 million in shorted Eisai stock, on behalf of itself or clients; that amounts to 3.7 percent of the drugmaker's shares, Bloomberg reports. Goldman Sachs raised its short position to $130 million; Morgan Stanley has also bet against the drugmaker. Overall, the company now has more short shares than the previous award-winner, Sumitomo Corp., which has $542 million in shares shorted.

Key to Eisai's future, of course, will be replacing the revenues lost to generic competition for Aricept, its top-selling drug. Ranbaxy Laboratories recently got the go-ahead to market its copycat version in the U.S. Eisai won an advantageous FDA approval, too, however, when the agency OK'd a higher-dose version of Aricept to be taken once daily.

The company is hoping this Aricept follow-on--and others--will keep that franchise producing about half of its current $2 billion or so in U.S. sales. And, according to a new growth plan presented in March, Eisai plans to expand in China--it's hiring sales reps now--and hopes to launch four new drugs in the U.S. during the current fiscal year.

- see the Bloomberg story