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Investors urged to take closer look at Astra’s lupus drug trial

AstraZeneca, Premier Oil, Man Group, and Genus are in the broker spotlight on Thursday

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Success with the Lupus trial would provide ‘upside’, Deutsche says

Richard Parkes, analyst at Deutsche Bank, reckons AstraZeneca’s (LON:AZN) decision to move its lupus drug candidate into Phase III trials is “worth a second glance” though he acknowledges the news may slip by some investors.

“We believe many investors are likely to overlook AstraZeneca’s latest drug to enter Phase III trials given: (1) the challenging nature of drug development in lupus; (2) the disappointing commercial performance of GSK’s Benlysta; and (3) recent high profile failures of drugs such as UCB’s epratuzumab.

“However, we believe the data is surprisingly encouraging.”

Parkes said the potential new drug doesn’t currently feature as part of Deutsche’s valuation of Astra, and so trial success would represent ‘upside’.

Meanwhile, Deutsche’s Lucas Herrmann described Premier Oil’s (LON:PMO) outlook for 2016 as “a touch disappointing” following the group’s second trading update, though he added that the shares currently appear “inexpensive”.

Stockbroking firm Hargreaves Lansdown reacted to Rolls Royce’s latest profit warning describing it as another major setback.

“Rebuilding confidence in the company’s outlook is now paramount for the relatively new chief executive,” said Hargreaves analyst Keith Bowman.

“For now, despite management changes and a still sizeable order book, current consensus analyst opinion of a weak hold is likely to come under further downward pressure.”

Man Group rating was cut by RBC Capital, which now sees the financial group as ‘sector perform’ rather an ‘outperform’.

Elsewhere, Liberum Capital has downgraded cattle breeding group Genus (LON:GNS) to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’.

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