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Robbie Stephens Cuts Chiron Rating

Robertson Stephens downgraded Chiron (CHIR) to market underperform.

Analyst Michael King says on Thursday the company received a letter from FDA asking for more data prior to approving Chrion's nucleic acid testing (NAT) blood-testing system, which tests donated blood for HIV and the hepatitis C virus. King says the comapany gave no specifics, but he still expects approval in the second half of 2002. He now assumes approval at end of 2001.

King cut the $0.84 2001 EPS estimate to $0.79 and continues to view Chiron as a low-growth company. Nucleic acid testing represents an important source of Chiron's bottom-line growth for the next 12-18 months, and the delay takes more wind out of Chiron's already flaccid sails. He set a $33 12-month target.

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