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Peregrine Pharma still rising on cancer study data

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc. continued to rise Monday following successful clinical trial results for Peregrine's cancer drug bavituximab.

THE SPARK: On Friday, Peregrine said patients who were treated with bavituximab in a mid-stage clinical trial lived twice as long as patients who were treated with only a chemotherapy drug. In a trial evaluating bavituximab as a secondary treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, patients who were treated with bavituximab and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel lived for 12.1 months after the start of treatment. Patients who received only docetaxel had median survival of 5.6 months.

The trial involved 121 patients with non-small cell lung cancer whose disease had returned after previous treatment.

The Tustin, Calif., company said it plans to hold a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration about its plans for the drug. Peregrine intends to start a late-stage of bavituximab in mid-2013.

THE BIG PICTURE: Peregrine is also studying bavituximab as a primary treatment for lung cancer. It is conducting clinical trials of the drug as a treatment for cancers of the pancreas, liver, prostate, breast, and for the viral infection for hepatitis C. The company is also testing a brain cancer drug called Cotara.

The company also reported its fiscal first-quarter results on Monday. Peregrine said it lost $7.7 million, or 7 cents per share, over the three months ended July 31. A year ago Peregrine took a loss of $8.1 million, or 11 cents per share. Its revenue slipped to $4.3 million from $5.7 million on a decrease in contract manufacturing revenue.

Analysts were forecasting a loss of 11 cents per share and $4 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

THE ANALYSIS: Roth Capital Partners analyst Joseph Pantginis said the study results mean Peregrine "has delivered in a big way." He maintained a "Buy" rating on the stock and raised his price target to $9 per share from $5.

SHARE ACTION: Peregrine shares rose 14 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $4.64 in afternoon trading. Earlier in the day the shares reached a three-year high of $5.14. The stock gained 46.6 percent Friday.

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