Sarepta Therapeutics rises on analyst rating

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. rose Friday after a Cowen & Co. analyst took a positive view of the company's experimental drugs.

THE SPARK: Analyst Edward Nash began covering Sarepta shares with an "Outperform" rating. Nash said he thinks the company's Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug eteplirsen will be approved in 2016, and he said sales of that drug alone should be enough to make the company profitable that year. He added that the U.S. Department of Defense has shown strong interest in the company's antiviral drugs.

The analyst projected $263 million in U.S. sales of eteplirsen in 2016.

THE BIG PICTURE: Sarepta is based in Cambridge, Mass., and does not have any approved drugs. Eteplirsen is its most advanced drug candidate. It is designed to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare genetic disease that causes increasing muscle weakness. The National Institutes of Health say patients typically die before the age of 25.

Nash said eteplirsen would be the first approved drug for the condition, and it might be used to treat about 1,500 patients initially.

The company is also conducting early clinical trials of potential treatments for Ebola and Marburg virus and flu. Studies of the Marburg virus drug are being funded under an agreement with the Defense Department.

The Marburg virus is indigenous to Africa and is spread through contact with infected animals or the bodily fluids of infected humans. Symptoms also include shock, delirium and multi-organ dysfunction. Sarepta said the virus is classified as a bioterrorism threat. Ebola causes severe internal bleeding and has no cure.

SHARE ACTION: Sarepta shares advanced $3.42, or 14 percent, to $27.81 in late trading. The shares surged after Sarepta reported positive clinical trial results for eteplirsen in July, and jumped again in October after the company reported more data. The shares closed at $3.46 on July 23 and more than doubled in value the next day. The stock peaked at $45 on Oct. 3.