What happened

After the company reported second-quarter revenue that was better than industry watchers were expecting, shares in Portola Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:PTLA) shot up 10.9% as of 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday.

So what

Portola Pharmaceuticals has launched two highly anticipated drugs since 2017. But one, Bevyxxa, was a dud; the second drug, Andexxa, got off to a slow start because of changes to its manufacturing process.

A toy rocket lifts off into the sky.


There appears to be little hope for Bevyxxa, given that its sales were just $77,000 last quarter. However, revenue for Andexxa, an antidote to a class of anticoagulant medications called factor Xa inhibitors, is accelerating. Andexxa sales were $27.1 million in Q2 2019, up from $20.3 million in Q1 2019. Over 400 hospitals have now ordered Andexxa, up from 300 exiting Q1, and 74% of Andexxa orders were reorders.

Overall, Portola's total revenue clocked in at $28.4 million, up 608% year over year and about $3 million more than analysts were forecasting.

The increase in sales is encouraging, but revenue still fell far short of covering Portola's expenses. The company's net loss was $66.2 million in the quarter, or $0.97 per share. For perspective, the company lost $106.2 million ($1.61 per share) in Q2 2018, and $78.2 million ($1.17 per share) in Q1 2019.

The company finished the quarter with $273.9 million in cash on its balance sheet, down from $317 million on Dec. 31, 2018.

Now what

Factor Xa inhibitors are blockbuster drugs, so there's reason to think that Andexxa's sales could grow significantly from here. Portola estimates that 150,000 people taking factor Xa inhibitors are admitted to hospitals annually and could benefit from Andexxa. Also, the company recently began selling Andexxa in Europe, opening up the opportunity for use in an additional 150,000 patients per year in Europe's biggest countries.

The company also announced it plans to begin a registration-enabling study of cerdulatinib later this year, after releasing encouraging results in relapsed/refractory follicular lymphoma in June.

Overall, Portola Pharmaceuticals' quarterly performance suggests it may be turning a corner. If so, that will be welcome news to investors, many of whom have endured losses the past two years.

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