So three mega mergers in the pharmaceutical industry, and yet Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY), which has been rumored to be a takeover target since last summer, is still standing alone.

Bristol-Myers is thought to be a target for a few reasons including:

  • its size
  • cash position
  • the possibility that Obama's administration could cut costs on healthcare, and
  • many big drugmakers have been looking to diversify their portfolios due to expirations of patents on prescription medications.

"Bristol-Myers is next," David Moskowitz, an analyst with Caris & Co. said in a interview said. "I think there is more consolidation to come. Ultimately these companies will have more power, jobs are going to be lost, and there is less money that will be available for research and development."

Rumors cite that Bristol-Myers could be a target of Sanofi-Aventis SA (PINK:SNYNF) mostly because the two share profits of the anti-clotting drug Plavix and on the hypertension treatment Avapro. Other rumored suitors are GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE:GSK), AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), which was thought to be a strong candidate to take over Schering-Plough Corp. (NYSE:SGP), which is merging with Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK).

Brisol-Myers has slimmed down considerably in recent months primarily by divesting its nonpharma businesses. Last year, the company sold two noncore units for $4.5 billion, and just last month, it spun out its baby formula unit Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. (NYSE:MJN) in an IPO. At the time, the move fanned buyout speculation.

The company finished 2008 with $8 billion in cash and has completed about six deals since September 2007.
Bristol has put its cash to work by snapping up licensing rights and even whole companies to expand its pipeline of new drugs. Last year, it agreed to buy Kosan Biosciences Inc. in May for $235 million and picked up the the licensing rights to two of Exelixis Inc.'s cancer drugs for $240 million in December.

Between the cash on its balance sheet, and its expanding pipeline, Bristol-Myers may find itself an attractive target for a larger peer.