The Drugmakers' Man Friday

Rising pressure on pharmaceutical companies to come up with new drugs is proving a boon to little-known Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPDI ). To improve efficiency and cut drug development costs, even giants are turning to PPD to conduct research and manage clinical trials. John Maloney, president of investment firm M&R Capital Management, who has been buying shares, says demand for PPD's services is on the rise: It has a backlog worth $1 billion. The stock, now at 28, is worth 40 to 45 in a year, Maloney figures. He notes that PPD has provided services to 41 of the world's top 50 drugmakers. Analyst Eric Coldwell of Prudential Securities rates PPD a buy and expects it to earn $1.65 a share on sales of $695 million in 2003, and $2.02 on $851 million in 2004. PPD earned $1.29 on $562 million in 2002.

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.

By Gene G. Marcial

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