Ahead of the Bell: BioMarin Pharma upgraded

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2009 9:27 AM

A Collins Stewart analyst said Wednesday she expects strong gains for shares of BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. after the company reports clinical data for a drug intended to treat a rare enzyme disease, and upgraded the stock to "Buy."

Salveen Kochnover expects BioMarin to report positive data for its GALNS enzyme replacement in the second quarter of 2010. The enzyme is intended to treat Morquio A syndrome, a genetic disease that causes skeletal and joint problems and shortness. It can also lead to hearing loss, clouded vision, and heart valve disease.

Kochnover, who upgraded the stock from "Hold," said the GALNS data should boost BioMarin's shares. She set a price target of $22, which suggests the stock will rise about 32 percent in the coming year. BioMarin shares closed at $16.22 on Tuesday.

In Morquio A syndrome, the body does not produce enough of the GALNS enzyme, and a compound called keratin sulfate builds up in organs and tissues. Kochnover said she thinks patients who take the enzyme will have improved walking distances and respiratory function and said the drug may be able to treat heart valve problems and improve growth.

She said there are more than 400 patients in an international registry and another 100 in a BioMarin program. She estimated peak annual sales for the drug of about $500 million.