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Ahead of the Bell: Stifel upgrades Infinity stock

The Associated Press

A potential blood cancer treatment from Infinity Pharmaceuticals Inc. showed "encouraging responses" in early-stage testing on several types of tumors, according to a Stifel Nicolaus analyst who raised his rating on the drug developer.

Infinity said on Monday that its drug, labeled IPI-145, was active against advanced blood cancers like chronic lymphocytic leukemia and Hodgkin's lymphoma in ongoing clinical testing. The Cambridge, Mass., company reported results from testing on 55 patients but is still testing increasing doses of the drug.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Joel Sendek raised his rating on the stock to "Buy" from "Hold." He said he expects study results to improve as some patients who have been taking the drug for only a few months continue with the therapy. The analyst also said an early concern related to the drug about neutropenia, a shortage of a type of white blood cell, may have been a false alarm.

Infinity has no approved drugs, and has two products in clinical testing. Infinity is also testing IPI-145 as a treatment for asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. It is studying another drug as a treatment for lung cancer.

The company's shares climbed more than 20 percent on Monday, reaching their highest level in a decade. They hit $27.60, a level last seen in 2002, before closing at $27.35. Sendek has a $30 price target on the shares.