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Better Outlook Boosts Cephalon

Shares rise 8%.

Shares of



jumped 8% Thursday after the drugmaker raised its first-quarter and full-year guidance.

By midafternoon, shares were up $6.02 to $81.32, and volume was much heavier than normal.

Cephalon announced Wednesday evening that first-quarter earnings would be in the range of $1.40 to $1.45 a share, excluding items, vs. the previous prediction of 90 cents to $1.

For the year, the new guidance is $4.40 to $4.50 a share, before items, up from the old forecast of $3.90 to $4. Unlike most companies, Cephalon uses a basic per-share calculation rather than a diluted earnings per share figure.

Cephalon said its first-quarter revision is due primarily to lower costs and better-than-expected sales of Fentora and Actiq for the treatment of cancer pain.

First-quarter sales will be $420 million, up from the previous forecast of $400 million to $410 million, the company said. The full-year sales forecast remains at $1.68 billion to $1.73 billion. Formal results will be issued May 1.