First Albany Cuts Pharmion to Neutral

Analyst Lucy Lu cites the company's forecast of a significant rise in expenses

First Albany downgraded Pharmion (PHRM) to neutral from buy, after the pharmaceutical company on Wednesday posted financial results.

Analyst Lucy Lu says that while the company's fourth quarter results of 15 cents earnings per share were in line with expectations, the company also forecast a significant rise in expenses in 2006. This includes a 90% rise in Research & Development costs due to in-licensing of the Satraplatin and HDAC inhibitor programs. Lu thinks these programs will not deliver significant near term upside to the company's stock price.

Also, she notes that the company faces competition. She keeps 2006 to 2008 Vidaza drug sales estimates of $107 million, $116 million, and $111 million, respectively, but cuts her 2006 to 2008 estimates to a $1.70 loss, $1.00 loss, and $1.04 loss from a 5 cents loss, 3 cents EPS, and breakeven.

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