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Halozyme climbs as analyst upgrades stock

Shares of Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. jumped Monday after a BMO Capital Markets analyst upgraded the stock, saying he expects it to do better in 2013.

Analyst Jim Birchenough upgraded the stock to “Outperform” from “Market Perform” and tripled his price target on the stock to $12. Birchenough noted that Halozyme shares struggled in 2012, but he thinks European Union regulators will issue a favorable opinion about the company's version of the cancer drug Herceptin during the first quarter. Later in the year, clinical trial data for other products could raise the company's stock price.

San Diego-based Halozyme's Enhanze technology is designed to temporarily break down a substance in the body that forms a barrier between cells so drugs can be absorbed faster. That would allow some drugs to be delivered by an injection instead of an IV drip.

Several companies are testing use of the company's recombinant hyaluronidase enzyme, including Roche and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), the world's biggest drug company.

Roche is testing the company's recombinant hyaluronidase enzyme along with several drugs, including the cancer drugs Herceptin and MabThera.

Halozyme (Nasdaq: HALO) could get more than $500 million from the Pfizer deal.

The company's stock took a battering in August, when the FDA temporarily stopped several studies that involved Halozyme's enzyme rHuPH20. The agency was concerned about possible side effects on fertility, reproduction and fetal development from antibodies produced in response to the enzyme.

Halozyme is working to resume some studies.

Halozyme shares rose $1.13, or 15.6 percent, to close Monday at $8.34.

The stock lost half its value on Aug. 2, closing at $4.30, when the FDA announced the hold on the enzyme studies. News of the Pfizer deal on Dec. 21 helped shares recover.


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