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Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug could be more competitive than peers, Stifel says in upgrade to buy

Biogen ‘s new Alzheimer treatment could lead to even stronger gains for the biotech company going forward, according to Stifel. Analyst Paul Matteis upgraded shares of the biotech company to buy from hold, saying that upcoming data for Alzheimer treatments from competitors Roche and Eli Lilly could show that clinical results for Biogen’s product, lecanemab, could be more competitive than feared. “[We] think upcoming Roche gantenerumab data are unlikely to live up to the high bar lecanemab recently set, and we think there’s a meaningful commercial role for lecanemab even if LLY’s donanemab succeeds based on lecanemab’s substantially lower rate of ARIA,” Matteis wrote in a Wednesday note. “Gantenerumab and donanemab readouts are overhangs for Biogen, but there’s reason to think that in most scenarios, lecanemab will have a competitive clinical profile,” he added. Shares of Biogen outperformed this year, up 5.7%, as investors pivoted into health care companies for their defensive attributes. Still, the analyst is concerned about challenges for the biotech company, including uncertainty around the company’s future CEO. But while Matteis thinks the stock set-up is a “tricky” one, “we think the risk/reward is upside biased, as there’s more skepticism than we anticipated on what looks like a best-case scenario for CLARITY-AD.” The analyst raised his price target to $299 from $223. The new price target is 17.9% above Wednesday’s closing price of $253.67. –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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