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The Associated Press April 30, 2012, 2:12PM ET

Amarin up on Citi projections for cholesterol drug

Shares of Irish drugmaker Amarin Corp. rose Monday after a Citi Investment Research analyst began covering the stock with a "Buy" rating, saying U.S. sales of the company's triglyceride drug AMR101 could reach $2.6 billion per year.

THE SPARK: Analyst John Boris said AMR101 could become the leading triglyceride-lowering drug, surpassing GlaxoSmithKline PLC's Lovaza and Abbott Laboratories Inc.'s drugs Tricor and Trilipix. He said annual U.S. sales could rise to $1.5 billion by 2020 if Amarin sells the drug on its own, or $2.6 billion if it forms a partnership with a bigger drug company.

Boris said those sales projections depend on the specifics of the marketing approval for the drug as well as its price. He expects broad approval and a price that is higher than that of Lovaza.

THE BIG PICTURE: AMR101 is designed to treat high levels of triglycerides, or fats in the blood. The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to make a decision on the drug by July 26. If approved, it will be Amarin's first marketed product.

Boris said Amarin could start selling the drug in early 2013 if it is approved in July. He said AMR101 could surpass Lovaza because that drug can raise levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, and overtake Tricor and Trilipix because those drugs are not associated with better health outcomes.

SHARE ACTION: Amarin stock picked up 27 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $12.28 in afternoon trading. The stock jumped 17 percent Thursday on rumors of a possible sale of the company, and shares are up 49.8 percent since March 14.

Boris set a price target of $20 per share. Amarin shares have traded between $5.99 and $19.87 in the last 52 weeks, peaking on May 31. However the shares have not traded above $20 since 2007.

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