Morning Buzz: Minerva Neurosciences (NERV), Taser (TASR), CytRx Corporation (CYTR), El Pollo Loco Holdings (LOCO), AOL Inc. (AOL)

Shares of Minerva Neurosciences, Inc. (NERV) are spiking 64% to $9.70 in early pre-market trading Tuesday, after the clinical-stage biotech firm reported study results that support its Parkinson’s treatment.

The company said a compound similar to its drug MIN-301 resulted in improvements in a range of symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease in non-human primates. “We believe that MIN-301 and its analog are functionally identical and that this data provides further support for advancing MIN-301 into clinical trials for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease in humans,” said Rémy Luthringer, president and CEO of Minerva, in a statement.

In the past 52 weeks, shares of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company have traded between a low of $4.08 and a high of $9.70. Shares are down 2.15% year-over-year.

Shares of Taser International Inc. (TASR) are trading 3% higher Tuesday morning after the company announced the receipt of several orders for a total of 3,130 TASER® X26P Smart Weapons for the Los Angeles Police Department.

On valuation measures, Taser shares are currently priced at 69.43x this year’s forecasted earnings compared to the industry’s 2.15x earnings multiple. Ticker has a PEG and forward P/E ratio of 2.29 and 53.52, respectively. Price/Sales for the same period is 8.83 while EPS is $0.37. Currently there are 3 analysts that rate TASR a ‘Buy’, 2 rate it a ‘Hold’. 1 analyst rates it a ‘Sell’. TASR has a median Wall Street price target of $22.50 with a high target of $28.00.

In the past 52 weeks, shares of Scottsdale, Arizona-based company have traded between a low of $10.46 and a high of $27.65 and are now at $26.43. Shares are up 63.94% year-over-year, compared with an 9.94% gain in the S&P 500.

Shares of CytRx Corporation (CYTR) are up 25% in pre-market trading Tuesday after the company said interim data showed its experimental cancer drug was effective in an ongoing Phase 2 clinical study to treat patients with a deadly form of brain cancer.

The drug, Aldoxorubicin, prevented the disease from progressing, shrank tumors and showed favorable tolerability in patients, the company said.

CYTR shares recently gained $0.72 to $3.57. In the past 52 weeks, shares of Los Angeles, CA-based biopharmaceutical company have traded between a low of $2.08 and a high of $8.35. Shares are down 57.21% year-over-year.

Analysts at Jefferies upgraded their El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. (LOCO) rating to ‘Buy’ from ‘Hold’ and set a price target of $27 in a research report issued to clients on Tuesday. LOCO closed at $20.86 yesterday. Jefferies’s PT suggests a potential upside of about 25% from the name’s current PPS of $21.70.

In other El Pollo Loco Holdings news this morning, the nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain continues its expansion with the opening of three new franchised locations in California and one new franchised location in Nevada.

Shares of AOL Inc. (AOL) are rallying in pre-market trading after Bloomberg cited people with knowledge of the matter in reporting Verizon Communications (VZ) has approached AOL about a potential acquisition or joint venture with the Internet company to expand its mobile-video offering.

The publication noted that Verizon hasn’t made a formal proposal to AOL, and no agreement is imminent.

AOL shares gained about 5% in pre-hours trading after closing at $44.74. Verizon shares rose 0.38% in pre-market trading. They had closed at $46.57.

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