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Jefferies Analyst Upgrades Bristol-Myers to 'Buy'

From Associated Press (September 19, 2011)

NEW YORK -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. could become a prime acquisition target because of the potential for sales growth from a skin cancer treatment and another drug that has yet to receive U.S. regulatory approval, according to a Jefferies analyst.

Analyst Jeffrey Holford on Monday upgraded shares of Bristol-Myers, based in New York, to "Buy" from "Hold" and raised a price target on the stock to $35 from $27.

Holford said in a research note that he expects Bristol-Myers' earnings and revenue growth will increase sharply, making it a strong acquisition candidate next year. The company is facing generic competition driven by the expiration of patent protection for Plavix, a blockbuster blood thinner.

Holford said Bristol-Myers was increasingly attractive to other companies because of the "spectacular launch" of the skin cancer treatment Yervoy, with second-quarter sales of $95 million, which he said topped expectations. He also raised his sales outlook for the blood thinner Eliquis, developed by Bristol-Myers and Pfizer Inc.

Eliquis was approved in the 27 European Union countries on May 20. The companies plan to seek U.S. approval later this year.

The analyst noted a potential Eliquis competitor, Xarelto, is going through a difficult Food and Drug Administration review. Holford said he expects Xarelto's approval to be delayed until the final quarter of 2013.

The company's shares rose 21 cents to $30.74 Monday morning, as the Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.1 percent.


Posted: September 2011