Chiron Corp. shares leaped $6.25 to $48 on Monday after thecompany announced at the 17th Annual Alex. Brown & SonsHealth Care Seminar that it expects final FDA approval thismonth for Proleukin IL-2.

An FDA advisory panel recommended Proleukin approval inJanuary.

The stock (NASDAQ:CHIR) also was boosted by strong analystrecommendations by Stuart Weisbrod of Merrill Lynch andDavid Stone of Cowen & Co.

Weisbrod projected 1992 sales of Proleukin to treat kidneycancer at $40 million.

He raised his rating on the company to "above average" from"neutral." "We are convinced that the merger of CHIR withCetus has resulted in one of the strongest and broadest-basedcompanies in the sector," he wrote. A cash horde of $540million to $550 million at the end of the first quarter "shouldgo to support one of the broadest research groups inbiotechnology," he added.

Weisbrod projected a "dramatic earnings turnaround in 1993"of $1.50 to $2 a share.

Stone, who expects more modest 1993 earnings of 95 cents ashare, upgraded his rating to "buy" from "hold."

"I have been waiting for the merger to work its way throughand a sense of earnings power to come through -- it hasn't yet,"said Stone. "Earnings still will be modest relative to stocks likeAmgen."

He said the stock should be purchased on its overall valuationrather than earnings. He put a $1.3 billion valuation on theEmeryville, Calif., company.

Spokesman Larry Kurtz confirmed that partner Bayer AGexpects to file this year for marketing approval for its anti-tumor necrosis factor antibody to treat sepsis.

Marketing approval also will be sought this year by thecompany's partner, Berlex Biosciences, for Betaseron betainterferon analog to treat multiple sclerosis.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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