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Wells Fargo Analyst is Upbeat on Pharmacyclics

Mon, 10/07/2013 - 8:11am

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Pharmacyclics rose Friday after an analyst for Wells Fargo said that he expects the biotechnology company's potential drug, ibrutinib, to become one of the most common primary treatments for blood cancer and generate billions of dollars in annual sales.

THE SPARK: Analyst Matthew Andrews started coverage with an "Outperform" rating and said he thinks the stock is worth $155 to $160 per share. He compared ibrutinib, which is being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, to cancer treatments like Celgene Corp.'s Revlimid, Novartis AG's Gleevec, and Roche's Rituxan, all of which have billions of dollars in annual sales. Andrews said those drugs changed the way certain cancers are treated and ibrutinib could do the same.

THE BIG PICTURE: Pharmacyclics Inc. doesn't have any approved drugs. Pharmacyclics is conducting clinical trials of ibrutinib as a treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a slow-growing cancer of white blood cells; mantle cell lymphoma, an aggressive cancer that typically starts in lymph nodes; and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, a cancer that affects a type of white blood cell.

In August the companies said the FDA will take six months to review ibrutinib instead of the usual 10 months. The FDA has deemed the drug a potential breakthrough therapy as a treatment for mantle cell lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia in patients with a genetic mutation.

SHARE ACTION: Pharmacyclics shares rose $4.65, or 3.4 percent, to $140.47 in midday trading, earlier Friday setting a new all-time high of $143.34. The stock has doubled in value over the last year.

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