July 16, 2008 / 3:23 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Leerink Swann downgrades eResearch, shares plunge

(Recasts; adds details, stock movement)

July 16 (Reuters) - Leerink Swann cut its rating on eResearchTechnology Inc ERES.O, a cardiac monitoring technology service provider, to “underperform” on valuation and concerns that automation could replace some of its services, sending its shares down nearly 16 percent.

The brokerage, which previously had a “market perform” on the stock, said increased automation within QT studies, or studies related to electro-cardiograms, may put pressure on pricing in the entire industry.

Analyst Bret Jones said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was open to advanced automated QT studies that could hamper the company’s growth potential.

Leerink Swann expects the company’s stock to trade in the price range of $12 to $13.

EResearch’s shares were down $2.60 at $14.08 in morning trade on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Kuganandhan Paramanandan in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)

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