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Shares of

Barr Pharmaceuticals


rose nearly 5% Friday, the result of favorable analysts' reviews following the company's release of its second-quarter earnings, and Food and Drug Administration approval of a new version of a drug for menopause symptoms.

The shares closed at $79.51, a gain of $3.56, or 4.7%. The stock had risen to as high as $80.50.

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Timothy D. Coan, of Piper Jaffray, raised his rating on the stock to outperform from market perform. Coan said he is cautious about companies that specialize in making generic drugs but "we believe there is money to be made in select companies, such as Barr, with upcoming drivers and a relatively stable base business."

Coan made his comments in a research report to clients Friday. Coan doesn't own shares; his firm states that it does and seeks to do business with companies in its reports.

Another favorable response came from Adam Greene, of First Albany Capital, who maintained his strong buy rating on the stock and raised his fiscal-year earnings prediction by 5 cents to $3.29 in a Friday note to clients. Barr's fiscal year ends June 30, 2004. Greene doesn't own shares; his firm doesn't have an investment banking relationship with Barr.

Barr has noted that based on previous projections of an EPS growth rate of 20% to 25%, fiscal-year EPS would be in the range of $3.14 to $3.28. Barr executives said on Thursday that they would provide more precise earnings guidance on March 10.

The company said Thursday that second-quarter revenue rose 79% and that earnings per share, excluding one-time charges associated with an acquisition, beat the 73 cents-a-share consensus of analysts polled by Thomson First Call by 8 cents. Barr's second quarter concluded Dec. 31, 2003.

Barr, based in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., also reported on Friday that the FDA had approved for marketing a 0.45-milligram version of Cenestin, a treatment for moderate to severe symptoms associated with menopause. This is the company's fifth dosage-strength release of Cenestin.