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AbbVie Climbs Pre-Earnings on Analyst Nod, Coronavirus Drug Demand

AbbVie rises ahead of its earnings report after Mizuho Securities gives it a buy, and as Chinese consumers flock to one of its drugs believed to help treat the coronavirus.

Shares of AbbVie  (ABBV) - Get Free Report gained on Thursday ahead of the company’s fourth-quarter earnings after Mizuho Securities initiated coverage of the stock with a buy rating, and as Chinese consumers flocked to one of its drugs believed to help treat the coronavirus.

AbbVie stock was up 0.82% at $87.34 in morning trading on Thursday, extending Wednesday’s gains of nearly 3%, after Mizuho Securities analyst Vamil Divan initiated coverage of the shares with a buy rating and a one-year price target of $96.

The out-of-the-gate nod from Divan comes as AbbVie preps to report earnings and sales for its fourth quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet are expecting the company to report per-share earnings of $2.19 on sales of $8.7 billion when it announces its results Friday.

It also comes as consumers in China scramble to stock up on one of the company’s antiretroviral drugs, Kaletra, a mix of drugs used to treat HIV patients that has quickly become a sought-after antidote for the novel coronavirus - despite not being proven to treat it.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese families are flocking online seeking experimental remedies that might be effective against the virus, including Kaletra, despite government warnings that no proven treatment has been found.

The Beijing branch of China’s National Health Commission in late January said a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, sold as Kaletra, was part of its latest treatment plan for patients infected by the virus, which has killed more than 565 and sickened more than 28,000 worldwide, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.  

Outside China, there are currently 225 cases in 24 countries, with one death.

Since then, other drugmakers have come forward with potential remedies for the virus, among them: Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Free Report, Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Free Report, Novavax  (NVAX) - Get Free Report and Gilead Sciences  (GILD) - Get Free Report.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology - based in the central Chinese city at the epicenter of the epidemic – this week applied for a patent in China for the use of Remdesivir, an antiviral therapy made by Gilead used to treat infectious diseases including Ebola and SARS.

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