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Ahead of the Bell: Analyst upgrades Cubist Pharma

The Associated Press

The revenue hit faced by Cubist Pharmaceuticals from generic competition may not be as dramatic as it has been for other drugs, Cantor Fitzgerald said Tuesday, as it raised its rating on the drugmaker.

Cubist gets most of its revenue from Cubicin, a treatment for skin infections like the MRSA "superbug" and blood infections. It also has some potential treatments in mid- and late-stage clinical testing. Earlier this month, it said the Food and Drug Administration has given fast-track status to an experimental antibiotic regimen as a treatment for three types of infections.

Cantor's Irina Rivkind upgraded shares of the Lexington, Mass., company to "hold" from "sell" on Tuesday and raised her price target on the stock to $49 from $40. While she no longer sees the company as overvalued, Rivkind still prefers "to look for more attractive entry points" into the shares.

The company is studying a combination of ceftolozane and tazobactam as a treatment of hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia as well as complicated urinary-tract infections. In February, the FDA granted fast-track status for the drug regimen, labeled CXA-201, as a treatment for complicated intra-abdominal infections.

Fast-track status gives companies extra meetings and correspondence with regulators throughout the review process, and it allows the drugmaker to submit data as it compiles it.

Rivkind said the biggest growth driver for this treatment will be hospital pneumonia data, which isn't expected until 2015 at the earliest. She added that there is no urgency to acquire the shares before that data emerges.

Shares of Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. closed at $53.48 on Monday and have climbed 27 percent so far this year.