Prolor Biotech rises as analyst gives top rating

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Prolor Biotech rose Wednesday after an Oppenheimer & Co. analyst started covering the biotech drugmaker with an "Outperform" rating.

THE SPARK: Analyst Boris Peaker said Prolor's shares could trade significantly higher over the next year to 18 months, as the company is conducting key clinical trials of a long-acting growth hormone. He the company should start a late-stage clinical trial of the drug and report results from one mid-stage and one-late stage trial before the end of 2013. Peaker initiated coverage with a price target of $7 per share.

THE BIG PICTURE: Prolor develops longer-lasting versions of approved products. The company says its carboxyl terminal peptide technology can make drugs last longer in a patient's bloodstream. It says its human growth hormone could be injected once a week or twice a month instead of daily, making the product more convenient for patients. Prolor said the product could be used as a long-term treatment for growth failure.

The human growth hormone drug is Prolor's most advanced product. The Israeli company is also studying treatments for conditions including hemophilia atherosclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Prolor collaborated with Merck & Co. on a long-acting version of follicle-stimulating hormone, an injectable hormone that is used to increase the chances of pregnancy. The European Union approved the product in 2010, and Merck markets it under the name Elonva. Peaker said that approval shows Prolor's technology can be effective.

SHARE ACTION: Prolor Biotech stock gained 19 cents, or 4.1 percent, to end at $4.88 Wednesday. The shares have traded between $6.69 and $3.31 in the last 12 months.

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