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Jeff Roberson / AP

Financial analysts at the investment bank Robert W. Baird & Co. sent a strong message this week to Wall Street investors: Don't touch pharmacy benefit managers.

"We would not currently invest in PBMs, despite depressed valuation, strong cash flow and potential tax reform benefits that bulls reasonably cite." — Robert W. Baird analysts

Why the caution? In two words: drug prices. Drug companies, pharmacists and lawmakers have thrown pharmacy benefit managers into the spotlight, arguing the middlemen encourage the use of high-priced drugs to reap bigger profits. The industry — which is dominated by Express Scripts, CVS Health and UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx — argues it keeps insurance premiums at bay by negotiating discounts with drug makers and pharmacies.

A handful of other investment firms encourage buying pharmacy benefit managers' stocks. But Baird analysts said the "whirlwind of negative headlines," including a plethora of lawsuits from pharmacies (such as this one against Express Scripts) and criticism of controversial clawback payments, makes the industry way too risky right now.

Go deeper

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth-quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

Janet Yellen plays down debt, tax hike concerns in confirmation hearing

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at an event in December. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.