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MedImmune Lifts Earnings Guidance On Allergy Drug Sales

Biotech firm MedImmune issued bullish earnings guidance on Monday, saying first-quarter profit is likely to triple from the same period last year, helped by higher sales of its respiratory drug Synagis.

The Gaithersburg, Md.-based company said it expects quarterly earnings in a range of 62 cents to 67 cents a share, up from 23 cents a year earlier. The analysts' consensus earnings estimate was 50 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial.

MedImmune said first-quarter sales are expected to rise by 11% to 12%, with net sales growth of 9% to 10% for Synagis.

Health experts are warning that this spring could be the worst allergy season in decades in some parts of the country, CNBC's Mike Huckman reported on Monday.

Allergies cost this country an $7 billion a year and the equivalent of three million workdays from lost productivity due to debilitating symptoms.

But those losses can translate into financial gain for a handful of pharmaceutical companies such as Dynavax Technologies , which is in late-stage development of a vaccine for ragweed allergies called Tolamba.

Bear Stearns, which has an "outperform" rating on Dynavax, said its worst-case scenario for the drug has it reaching the U.S. market in 2011.

"We think a delay is priced into the stock at current levels, we see little downside this year and further upside from a Heplisav partnership this year," wrote analyst Mark Schoenebaum in a Feb. 26 research report.

Heplisav is an experimental hepatitis B vaccine in Phase III clinical trials.

Bear Stearns makes a market in Dynavax shares.

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