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Pacira keeps rising; analyst sees more gains ahead

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Pacira Pharmaceuticals Inc. rose to a record high Friday, and a Jefferies analyst predicts they will go still higher.

THE SPARK: Analyst Corey Davis lifted his price target to $32 from $24, saying Pacira reported strong growth in sales of Exparel in the fourth quarter. The drug was used in more plastic surgeries and appears to be catching on in orthopedic and chest surgeries.

His prediction suggests he thinks the stock could rise more than 20 percent from Thursday's closing price.

THE BIG PICTURE: Pacira reported its quarterly results Thursday morning. It said sales of Exparel rose to $7.8 million in the fourth quarter from $4.6 million in the third quarter. It started selling Exparel in April as a treatment for pain after certain types of surgery, and it is studying additional uses of Exparel and is also researching treatments for cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

SHARE ACTION: Pacira Pharmaceuticals shares picked up $2, or 7.7 percent, to $28.06 in late afternoon trading. The stock had already gained 49 percent in 2013, and hit its latest all-time high Friday, at $28.38. Pacira went public in February 2011.