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ViroPharma rises following analyst upgrade

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of ViroPharma Inc. rose Tuesday after a Leerink Swann analyst upgraded the stock, expecting strong sales of its drugs Cinryze and Plenadren.

THE SPARK: Analyst Joseph Schwartz raised his rating to "Outperform" from "Market Perform." He said prescription growth for Cinryze is improving, and the drug should meet Wall Street estimates over the next few years. ViroPharma gets most of its revenue from U.S. sales of Cinryze. Schwartz said he is taking a more positive view of European sales of Plenadren, agreeing with ViroPharma's view that the market for Plenadren could reach $200 million.

Schwartz raised his price target on the stock to $30 per share from $27, saying the shares are now trading at a more favorable price.

THE BIG PICTURE: ViroPharma focuses on serious diseases with few, if any, available therapies. Cinryze is used to prevent and treat attacks of hereditary angioedema, a rare genetic disorder that can cause dangerous swelling of the throat or larynx. Plenadren treats adrenal insufficiency. ViroPharma also makes the seizure drug Buccolam and antibiotic Vancocin.

The Exton, Pa., company expects $320 million to $335 million in U.S. sales of Cinryze in 2012, and says total revenue will be between $425 million and $435 million.

Analysts expect $427.3 million in total sales, according to FactSet.

SHARE ACTION: ViroPharma shares rose 61 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $24.36 in afternoon trading. The stock has lost 20 percent of its value since Oct. 19, and has traded between $19.02 and $33.17 over the last 12 months.