April 1 (Reuters) - Shares of Celgene Corp (CELG.O) fell 15 percent to a new 52-week low Wednesday, a day after the biotechnology company forecast first-quarter earnings below estimates, prompting at least four brokerages to cut their price target on the stock.
The company also reaffirmed its 2009 forecast but said it expects to achieve the lower end of the range.
Citigroup analyst Yaron Werber removed Celgene from its “top pick live list” citing Celgene’s exposure to the tough global economy and the Obama healthcare and tax reform.
“We believe that the issues are somewhat transient,” Werber said, adding that trends in geographies outside of U.S. have been weak, and could continue due to stressed budgets.
Werber cut his price target on the stock to $57 from $67.
Other factors affecting the company’s forecast are fewer shipping days in the quarter, inventory drawdowns, increased free drug goods to patients, analysts said.
For 2009, Celgene sees a profit of $2.05 to $2.15 a share, before special items, on revenue of $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion.
Celgene said it expects first-quarter earnings to rise about 20 percent over the year-ago quarter, representing a profit of 43 cents a share, on revenue of about $600 million.
While 19 analysts polled by Reuters Estimates were expecting Celgene to earn 44 cents a share, excluding items, the four analysts who cut their price targets were expecting earnings in the range of 48 cents to 52 cents a share.
Shares of Celgene were down $6.90 at $37.50 in afternoon trade Wednesday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Anuradha Ramanathan in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri)