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Keryx shares rise on analyst's Zerenex forecast

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. rose Wednesday after a JPMorgan analyst started covering the stock with an "Overweight" rating and a positive view on the company's experimental drug Zerenex.

THE SPARK: Analyst Cory Kasimov said he expects Zerenex, a treatment for kidney disease, to be approved and reach the market in 2014. He said combined annual sales in the U.S. and European Union could reach $500 million a year and added that he believes the drug will have patent protection until 2024. Kasimov set a price target of $13 on Keryx shares.

THE BIG PICTURE: Keryx has no approved drugs and Zerenex is its only product in clinical testing. The company is preparing to file for marketing approval of the drug as a treatment for hyperphosphatemia in dialysis patients with chronic kidney disease.

Hyperphosphatemia is an abnormally elevated phosphate level in the blood, often affecting people with chronic kidney disease, that can result in calcium and hormone production problems

Keryx is also studying Zerenex as a treatment for hyperophosphatemia and anemia in patients who are not on dialysis.

THE ANALYSIS: Kasimov said Zerenex is the first drug of its type that may help anemia as well as reducing phosphate levels.

SHARE ACTION: Shares of Keryx rose 56 cents, or 7.3 percent, to $8.22 in afternoon trading. The stock has more than doubled in value since the company reported positive late-stage trial results for Zerenex in late January.