United Therapeutics rises on new drug approval

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of United Therapeutics surged Monday after regulators approved the company's newest treatment for high blood pressure, Orenitram.

A Cowen and Co. analyst called the FDA's move a "surprise" because the FDA had refused to approve the drug twice before and United Therapeutics hasn't reported any additional data from clinical studies.

THE SPARK: Late on Friday United Therapeutics said that the Food and Drug Administration had approved Orenitram as a treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension, a potentially fatal condition in which patients have abnormally high blood pressure in their lungs.

THE BIG PICTURE: The approval comes earlier than expected, as the FDA wasn't scheduled to make a decision until February.

THE ANALYSIS: Cowen and Co. analyst Phil Nadeau said he expects the Silver Spring, Md., company to get $200 million to $300 million in annual revenue from Orenitram. Nadeau rates the shares "Outperform" with a price target of $100.

SHARE ACTION: United Therapeutics Corp. shares rose $19.76, or 23 percent, to $107.60 in late morning trading. The stock had climbed 64 percent in 2013 and reached its latest all-time high of $109.47 earlier Monday.