Dendreon shares skid as analyst cuts rating

Dendreon falls as analyst downgrades shares to 'sell,' pointing to weak Provenge sales, debt

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Dendreon fell Friday after a Deutsche Bank analyst downgraded the stock, pointing to disappointing sales of its prostate cancer therapy Provenge and increasing debt.

THE SPARK: Analyst Robyn Karnauskas lowered her rating to "sell" from "hold" and cut her price target to $1 per share from $6. She said the company is still losing money, and even if Dendreon Corp. makes big cuts to its spending, sales of Provenge are still disappointing and growth is uncertain. Karnauskas said the company has about $640 million in debt due from 2014 to 2016.

"The company's inability to guide growth and provide visibility makes it difficult for us to see sales accelerating sufficiently in next 12 to 18 months to give equity and debt shareholders confidence," she said.

Dendreon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

THE BIG PICTURE: Provenge is designed to train a patient's immune system to fight prostate cancer. It was approved in April 2010 and some analysts expected annual sales would reach into the billions. However sales have been hurt by concerns about the drug's effectiveness and its high price tag, and Provenge is now facing competition from newer drugs.

Revenue from Provenge totaled $321.5 million in 2012. Earlier this month the company said it no longer expects Provenge sales to grow in 2013. That was not a surprise to Wall Street analysts expecting a small decline in sales, but it hurt Dendreon shares.

As of Aug. 8 analysts expected Dendreon to report $314.1 million in Provenge revenue, according to FactSet. They now expect $298.8 million on average.

SHARE ACTION: Dendreon stock declined 32 cents, or 10 percent, to $2.87 in afternoon trading. The stock is trading at its lowest prices since March 2009. The day after Provenge was approved the shares reached an all-time high of $57.67.

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