Bloomberg News

Vertex Falls as Analyst Cuts Hep C Sales Estimate: Boston Mover

January 31, 2012

(Updates with closing share price in third paragraph.)

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. fell the most in seven weeks after an analyst with Leerink Swann & Co. cut sales estimates for a hepatitis C pill made by the company that was approved by U.S. regulators last year.

Vertex’s Incivek, among the first new hepatitis C drugs to reach the market in almost a decade, may be eclipsed by new pill-only treatments with fewer side effects and shorter courses of treatment. Incivek is given with interferon, an injected medicine. Merck & Co.’s similar pill, Victrelis, was also approved last year.

Shares of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Vertex fell 3.5 percent to $34.74 at the close in New York, their biggest one- day drop since Dec. 8.

Howard Liang, an analyst with Leerink Swann in Boston, reduced his sales forecast for Incivek by 35 percent from $2.3 billion this year to $1.5 billion. Liang also cut his target price for Vertex shares from $66 to $48.

“In light of recent development of interferon-free regimens and likely more aggressive development as a result of recent transactions in the space, we are further curtailing the Incivek tail,” Liang said in a note to clients today.

Vertex had $420 million in revenue from Incivek in the third quarter of 2011. Revenue from the drug accounts for 64 percent of the company’s sales.

--Editors: Angela Zimm, Adriel Bettelheim

To contact the reporter on this story: Drew Armstrong in Washington at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net


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