Mylan at long-time high on outlook, deal talk

NEW YORK -- Shares of Mylan Inc. rose to their highest price in almost nine years on Friday after the drugmaker reported higher sales of its EpiPen allergy injection and raised its 2012 guidance.

THE SPARK: Mylan reported its third-quarter results Thursday. It said sales of generic drugs rose 10 percent to $1.5 billion and sales of specialty drugs rose as revenue from EpiPen grew more than 50 percent. The company said it now expects to earn between $2.50 and $2.60 per share in 2012, about 15 cents per share more than it had expected.

EpiPen is an epinephrine auto-injector for treating severe allergic reactions. Pfizer Inc. makes EpiPen, and Mylan markets it in the U.S.

THE BIG PICTURE: Mylan also said Thursday that it was willing to make new acquisitions to expand its business.

"We certainly are looking at any and all compelling acquisitions that would allow us to continue to deliver or accelerate the trajectory that we're already on," said CEO Heather Bresch.

Mylan, which is based in Pittsburgh, is the third-largest maker of generic drugs in the world. It expanded it business into India in early 2007 by buying a majority stake in Matrix Laboratories. Later that year it bought Merck KGaA's generic business for $7.7 billion, expanding into Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. In 2009 Mylan bought the rest of Matrix.

However Mylan will soon fall to fourth-largest. Competitor Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. is in the process of buying Actavis Group of Switzerland for about $5.6 billion. The deal is expected to close before the end of 2012. Both Watson and Mylan will have annual revenue of about $8 billion.

THE ANALYSIS: Canaccord Genuity analyst Randall Stanicky upgraded Mylan shares to "Buy" from "Hold," citing improved EpiPen sales and the potential that a big acquisition will speed up the company's growth and support the stock price.

Stanicky raised his price target to $30 per share from $25.

SHARE ACTION: Mylan shares rose 4.4 percent Thursday and gained as much as 2 percent Friday, peaking at $25.51. That was the highest price for Mylan shares since late 2003. It was trading by late afternoon at $25.13, up 13 cents for the day.