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First Albany Ups Protein Design Labs

First Albany upgrades Protein Design Labs (PDLI) to strong buy from buy on Tuesday, citing the company's positive results from a study of ularitide as a potential treatment for heart failure patients.

Analyst David Webber said the results add evidence that ularitide could be better than Protein Design rival Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ)'s Natrecor. The similar product approached a $700 million sales rate until controversy broke out regarding Natrecor's potential for causing kidney damage and increased mortality. That news led to restrictions and lower sales of Natrecor, Webber said. Although ularitide probably will not reach the market until 2009, its emergence as a potential major product, together with other positive factors at Protein Design Labs, lead Webbers to up his price target on the stock to $35 from $32.

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