Wachovia Upgrades InterMune to 'Outperform'

Analyst Martin Auster sees a stronger-than-expected earnings boost from the Actimmune drug

Wachovia upgraded InterMune (ITMN ) to outperform from peer perform.

Analyst Martin Auster says he upgraded InterMune on several near-term catalysts. He notes a possible resumption of patient adds in the second half, and expected expense restructuring. Auster sees limited downside risk, given the conservative 2003 guidance for the company's Actimmune drug for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. He notes the publication of Actimmune Phase III data, and the start of a Phase III confirmatory trial in the second half of the year.

Auster says Actimmune is the best available treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and he could see firming demand from physicians for this drug. He sees a 92-cent per share loss in the second quarter, and a $3.57 per share loss in 2003. He has a $17-$21 valuation, and recommends buying InterMune before its July 29 second-quarter earnings release.

Seperately, InterMune CEO Scott Harkonen, M.D., resigned.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.