March 5th, 2012
Shares in BP are expected to rise 5-9 percent on Monday after the oil giant reached a settlement with businesses and individuals impacted by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill worth an estimated $7.8 billion.
Some analysts said the expected payout was less than they had forecast, reduced legal uncertainty and suggested the final settlement with BP’s biggest opponent – the U.S. government – would be much lower than the worst case scenario.
“On a trading basis we see a potentially quite positive reaction … BP moving to the 530-550 pence range near term (if not higher), and possibly higher thereafter,” said Jason Kenny, oil analyst at Santander.
BP shares closed at 496.5 pence on Friday.
Analysts had given a wide range of forecasts for how much BP would have to pay out to compensate fishermen, condominium owners and hoteliers, with many predicting a figure of $14 billion, although BP had taken a provision of just $6.1 billion.
The company has also taken a $3.5 billion provision for expected government fines but the maximum possible level of penalty could be over $20 billion, if BP is found to have been grossly negligent.
Analysts said the agreement boosted the chances of a settlement with the government.
“What this agreement does, if it is implemented, is to give the management of BP further encouragement to try and reach a settlement out of court (with the U.S. Department of Justice),” said Iain Armstrong, oil analyst with Brewin Dolphin, via email.
Fadel Gheit, oil analyst at Oppenheimer in New York, said BP’s hand had been strengthened by the deal.
“I think the settlement further weakens the government claim of gross negligence,” he said.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley predicted the agreement would allow BP to continue raising its dividend, which was cut at the height of the oil spill – the worst in U.S. history.
“We believe the path towards free cash flow of $8.7 billion and a dividend of 39 cents per share by 2014 remains intact,” the bank said in a research note.
BP paid a dividend of 29 cents per share for 2011. Some investors had feared BP’s ability to grow the dividend could be limited by the legal uncertainty.
Nontheless, even the most optimistic forecasts suggest BP will remain well below its pre-spill payout of 14 cents per share per quarter for years to come.
In addition to the U.S. federal government’s claims, BP faces lawsuits from the states affected by the spill, which came after a blast on a drilling rig that killed 11 men.
Analysts at Citigroup said they expected BP to have to pay another $1-2 billion to settle these claims.
For The Full Report Go To Raw Story
October 19th, 2010
Drug companies say they hire the most-respected doctors in their fields for the critical task of teaching about the benefits and risks of the companies’ drugs.
But an investigation by ProPublica has uncovered hundreds of doctors receiving company payments who had been accused of professional misconduct, were disciplined by state boards or lacked credentials as researchers or specialists.
To vet the industry’s handpicked speakers, ProPublica created a comprehensive database that represents the most accessible accounting yet of payments to doctors. Compiled from disclosures by seven companies, the database covers $257.8 million in payouts since 2009 for speaking, consulting and other duties. The companies include Lilly, Cephalon, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer.
Although these companies have posted payments on their websites — some as a result of legal settlements — they make it difficult to spot trends or even learn who has earned the most. ProPublica combined the data and identified the highest-paid doctors, then checked their credentials and disciplinary records.
That is something not all companies do.
“Without question, the public should care,” said Dr. Joseph Ross, an assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine who has written about the industry’s influence on physicians. “You would never want your kid learning from a bad teacher. Why would you want your doctor learning from a bad doctor, someone who hasn’t displayed good judgment in the past?”
ProPublica senior reporter Charles Ornstein detailed the findings with Morning Edition’s Renee Montagne.
NPR: Tell us a little about the database. What have you found, and who’s on it?
Charles Ornstein, ProPublica: For many years, the pharmaceutical industry has been paying doctors to speak and consult on their behalf, but the names of those doctors have largely been a secret. So, for the first time we’re seeing from the companies who they’re paying for. Now we have a chance to take a look at their backgrounds and what they’re doing for the money.
What are these 17,000 doctors listed in the database doing for the seven drug companies that have released information?
The drug companies rely on doctors to speak locally and travel around the country to educate other doctors about the risks and benefits of the drugs. And they can get paid a lot of money. In our database we found that there were 384 doctors who, over the course of just the past 18 months, have received at least $100,000 from the drug companies that have reported so far.
What kind of money are we talking about, and what is that buying the drug companies in the way of sales?
We’re talking about big money. Just from these seven companies, they’ve paid out more than $257 million in the past 18 months, and remember not all of these companies have even disclosed their payments for that whole period of time, so it’s likely going to be substantially more, just for these seven companies.
What do they get for it? They wouldn’t be spending this kind of money if they weren’t getting returns from the perspective of increasing their brand in the market, letting doctors know about it, encouraging them to prescribe it. They say that doctors’ success at increasing prescriptions is not a means in which they’re measured, but some of the lawsuits against the industry have said that prescriptions and return on investment absolutely play a role.
And you have found among those doctors a few who have backgrounds that are a bit shocking, especially considering they’re representing these drug companies and, in a sense, representing themselves as experts.
If you take a look at the pharmaceutical company websites, you see that they take great pride in that they’ve recruited the top names in the field, the leading experts and academicians to speak on behalf of their products and consult with them, and when you start looking at the backgrounds, you find some, indeed, are the top names in their fields. But some you can’t find any information about.
We found several dozen of the top speakers did not have board certifications — which means they were not certified in their medical specialties — and then we found more than 250 doctors who had some type of sanction taken against them by a state medical board. And we just looked at a sampling of states.
Some of the discipline was really quite serious. The Ohio Medical Board, for example, voted a couple of years back to revoke the license of William David Leak, whom they accused of performing unnecessary nerve tests on 20 patients and subjecting some to an excessive number of invasive procedures. Dr. Leak is appealing the penalty, and his license is still active, but since 2009 he has received $85,000 from Eli Lilly and Co.
Another one is a hospital disciplinary case out of Georgia — the state appeals court in Georgia in 2004 upheld a hospital’s decision to kick Dr. Donald Ray Taylor off its staff. He’s an anesthesiologist, and he admitted to giving young female patients rectal and vaginal exams without documenting why. He had also been accused of exposing women’s breasts during medical procedures, and when he was confronted by a hospital official, he said, “Maybe I am a pervert; I honestly don’t know.”