Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (KERX) Spikes on Upgrade from Roth Capital

Joel Anderson |

Shares in Keryx Pharmaceuticals (KERX) joined the market rally on Wednesday with gusto, climbing nearly 20 percent on news that it was being upgraded by several analysts. Keryx has been experiencing a strong year since getting back solid data from a Phase III trial on its phosphate-binder Zerenex, which is intended for use by dialysis patients.

Upgrades from Roth Capital, Maxim Group

Keryx's Wednesday bounce can be attributed to a bullish recommendation from Dr. Joseph Pantginis at Roth Capital, who reiterated his buy rating while raising his price target from $16 to $24. In a September 24 interview with Seeking Alpha’s Ben Yoffe, Pantginis cited the 52 percent reduction in IV iron use by patients in the Phase III clinical study as being an important factor.

“We believe the ‘iron sparing’ component of Zerenex' profile will differentiate the drug upon anticipated approval,” he said. “We believe that not enough emphasis is currently being placed by the street on the iron sparing parameters seen to date, especially in the Phase III. The pharmacoeconomic benefit that can be seen using Zerenex can easily reach hundreds of millions of dollars with reduced iv iron and ESA use such as Epogen.”

Issuing a much more bearish, but nonetheless positive, outlook on August 1 were Maxim Group analysts, who upgraded the stock to a buy and raised the price target from $9 to $12.

Zerenex Approval by FDA Continues Strong Year

News of the positive Phase III study results initially caused Keryx’s stock to more than triple from January 18 to January 30 of this year. So far, the stock’s up nearly 300 percent on the year. The most recent increase also comes on the heels of news that the New Drug Application (NDA) for Zerenex had been approved by the FDA on Tuesday of last week.

"We are very pleased with the FDA's acceptance for filing of our NDA for Zerenex, as this represents an important achievement in the development of Zerenex,” said CEO Ron Bentsur at the time. “We believe that Zerenex has the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients with chronic kidney disease on dialysis, and we look forward to continuing to work with the FDA in its review process of the Zerenex NDA."

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