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Citi hikes target price for GSK but stays 'neutral'

(Sharecast News) - Shares in biopharma giant GSK were rising on Friday, helped by forecast upgrades from Citi, which raised its target price on the stock from 1,535p to 1,700p. However, while the new target suggests nearly 12% upside from Thursday's closing price of 1,521.2p, it isn't enough to change Citi's 'neutral' rating on the stock.

"We have found ourselves warming to GSK after almost a decade without a positive rating," said analyst Andrew Baum.

Nevertheless, the bank has now increased its core earnings per share estimates for 2030 to 2035 by between 19% and 43%.

"GSK's embrace of a 'Back to Basics' strategy on three key therapeutic areas focus materially increases the probability of shareholder value creation. We particularly like the recent Bellus and Aiolos respiratory deals addressing de-risked targets in a core therapeutic area of competence for GSK," Baum said.

Meanwhile, GSK has already settled numerous lawsuits in the US that claimed that its discontinued heartburn drug Zantac caused cancer, and the majority of outstanding cases relate to filings within Delaware that cover c.80,000 plaintiffs. Pre-trial hearings were scheduled to start this week and so the market is waiting to hear if there are any further settlements due this year.

According to Baum, a potential dismissal of the Delaware multidistrict litigation would translate into a settlement of up to $2bn which would result in a "modest positive share price reaction".

Baum added that Citi has also raised its forecasts for ViiV - the HIV treatment joint venture set up by GSK, Pfizer and Shionogi - "assuming the next-generation therapies with longer dosing windows translate into higher adoption rates".

GSK's share price was up 1.4% at 1,541.7p by 1129 GMT.

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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