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Regeneron moves higher on asthma drug study data

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. edged higher on Wednesday on positive clinical trial data for an experimental asthma drug.

THE SPARK: The New England Journal of Medicine's website on Tuesday published the results of a study of the asthma treatment dupilumab, which Regeneron is developing with French drugmaker Sanofi. The study showed that dupilumab cut the incidence of asthma getting worse by 87 percent, and patients who took the drug had greater improvements in lung function compared to patients who were given the placebo.

The study compared dupilumab to a placebo in 104 patients with moderate to severe asthma.

THE BIG PICTURE: Most of Regeneron's revenue comes from an eye drug called Eylea, which was first approved in late 2011. The Tarrytown, N.Y., company expects to report $1.25 billion to $1.33 billion in Eylea sales in 2013.

Sanofi and Regeneron are also studying dupilumab as a treatment for atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic rash that causes inflammation and itching. It most often affects children. The two are also collaborating on other drugs.

THE ANALYSIS: While there's a focus on growth prospects for Eylea, Regeneron also has a strong pipeline of experimental drugs, said Roth Capital Partners analyst Joseph Pantginis. Pantginis raised his target price on the company's shares, which he rates "Buy," by $2 to $316.

SHARE ACTION: Shares peaked at $274.50 Wednesday, up 5.6 percent. Late in the afternoon, the stock traded up 1.2 percent at $262.96. The stock has more than doubled in value over the last year and has climbed 64 percent over the last three months, reaching an all-time high of $283.99 on May 15.