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Rigel Shares Get Crushed

Auster doesn't see any meaningful catalysts that would lift the stock in the next 12 months, but he notes that the company is starting a phase II trial for a proposed rheumatoid arthritis treatment in 2006. In addition, he says that through a strategic collaboration, Pfizer (PFE) may help take a Rigel asthma drug into human testing next year.

Rigel is also working with companies like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Merck (MRK) and Novartis (NVS) on development and marketing plans for its drugs.

"After the dust settles, we believe RIGL may present an interesting value play for patient, long-term-oriented investors," Auster says. However he downgraded the stock to market perform. Wachovia Capital Markets does and seeks to do business with companies covered in its research reports.

Mark Monane at equity research firm Needham also expects Rigel to discontinue R112 development. Needham says it expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from Rigel in the next three months.

Lei Zhong, an analyst at Banc of America Securities, says his firm has never viewed Rigel as "a one-drug wonder." He adds that "we continue to like Rigel's drug discovery platform focused on Syk kinase." Still, he downgraded the stock from neutral from buy and slashed his price target to $10 from $30. Banc of America Securities intends to seek or expects to receive compensation for investment banking services from Rigel in the next three months.

Rigel will conduct a conference call after the market closes Thursday to discuss the trial data.

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