Xarelto’s MARINER Fails, Leaving Portola’s (PTLA) Bevyxxa Time to Ramp, Says Cowen; Reiterates Outperform on the Stock

At the European Society of Cardiology conference on Sunday, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) presented disappointing results from its MARINER study evaluating the use of Xarelto in medically ill patients facing incidents of venous thromboembolism (VTE). MARINER did not show a significant improvement in primary endpoint of symptomatic VTE and VTE-related death.

The failure could prove a big plus for Portola (NASDAQ:PTLA), though, which has been struggling to sell the rival Bevyxxa, which is approved for VTE.

Indeed, Cowen analyst Phil Nadeau sees these results as favorable for Bevyxxa due to less competition in acute medically patients. The analyst commented, “The failure of MARINER is a clear positive for Bevyxxa as it eliminates Xarelto as a potential competitor in the market of Factor Xa inhibitors for VTE prophylaxis in acute medically ill patients. We view the dataset in MARINER as insufficient to support regulatory approval in AMI, and therefore Bevyxxa will be the only factor Xa approved in this indication for the foreseeable future. This is good news for Portola given the slow launch of Bevyxxa thus far ($33k in sales in Q2:18) and guidance from management that sales growth will ramp slowly, perhaps, inflecting only in late 2019. The lack of competition should give time for Bevyxxa to build a franchise in AMI by continuing to win hospital formulary approvals and working to ensure Bevyxxa is included in electronic order systems.”

Furthermore, “There are other encouraging data points from the study that speak to Bevyxxa’s prospects. MARINER yet again confirmed an elevated risk of VTE in postdischarge acute medically ill patients, and demonstrated that the risk can be modifiable. Moreover, Bevyxxa produced a larger VTE benefit, and less of an increase in major bleeds in its pivotal APEX trial. The results further highlight that Bevyxxa should be the Factor Xa of choice in this population.”

Net net, Nadeau reiterates an Outperform rating on Portola shares, with a price target of $50, which represents a potential upside of 81% from where the stock is currently trading. (To watch Nadeau’s track record, click here)

The Street largely seems to echo Nadeau’s positive sentiment, considering TipRanks analytics showcase PTLA as a Buy. Out of 6 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 4 are bullish on Portola stock, while 2 remain sidelined. With a potential upside of 65%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $45.60.


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