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CV Investors: Take Heart

By Gene G. Marcial

Lately, CV Therapeutics (CVTX) is bouncing around on rumors of what the Food & Drug Administration might do about Ranexa, CV's angina treatment. The stock has dropped from 18 in November to 12 on Dec. 8, when an FDA panel sought more data on the drug. Quickly, most analysts cooled on CV. But lately, the stock has perked up -- to 15.17 on Jan. 21. That may be due to the Jan. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn., which said Ranexa significantly reduced angina frequency. Some investors now say it may get early FDA approval. (Five of the 11 FDA panel members urged an outright O.K.) With the stock's low price and better prospects, CV is buyout bait, say some pros. In late 2000, as takeover talk swirled, CV soared to 80. One New York fund manager, who asked not to be identified, is buying shares because he expects a bid. Big drugmakers are snapping up biotechs to fill their pipelines (in December, Pfizer (PFE) bought Esperion (ESPR)). CV has yet to make money, but if Ranexa is approved, it could be a home run. He notes that CV'S stock price is equal to its cash stash of $15 a share. Thomas Wei of Piper Jaffray (USB) rates the stock outperform. He foresees approval in 2006 -- or earlier. Piper has done banking for CV. Oren Levy, head of biotech research at White Mountain Capital, has upped CV from hold to buy. He says it has promising drugs and ample finances.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them. See Gene on Fridays at 1:20 p.m. EST on CNNfn's The Money Gang.

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