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Analysts Defend Esperion As Shares Sell Off Sharply

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Analysts Defend Esperion As Shares Sell Off Sharply
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Esperion Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: ESPR) stock lost roughly a third of its value Wednesday after the company reported mixed Phase III results for its leading drug candidate, bempedoic acid. While the company hit its primary endpoints with the trial, patients in the test group experienced a higher death rate than the placebo group, a revelation that clearly spooked the market.

A number of Wall Street analysts weighed in on Esperion following the news. Esperion shares were down 19.29 percent at the time of publication Thursday. 

Voices From The Street

Cowen analyst Chris Shibutani said a 30-percent sell-off was excessive.

“Data presented suggests the top line is fine, however management did a poor job communicating details of the imbalances,” he said.

JMP Securities analyst Jason Butler said he has no concerns about the elevated number of deaths in the study.

“We firmly agree with management’s perspective that the fatalities seen in Study 1 were not related to study drug (0.9 percent on bempedoic acid vs. 0.3 percent on placebo),” Butler said.

Needham analyst Chad Messer said the latest data didn't shake his confidence in both the efficacy and the safety of bempedoic acid.

“The two top reasons for death (five each) in the bempedoic acid arm were from cardiovascular disease or cancer, unsurprising given the patient population which included a large number of smokers,” Messer said.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Ying Huang, however, said the data is concerning and is a red falg for investors.

“These deaths were deemed unrelated to the study drug due to overall health of these patients, but we are afraid that the imbalance may raise concern from [the] FDA,” the analyst said.

The Ratings And Price Targets

  • BofA downgraded Esperion from Buy to Underperform and lowered the price target from $95 to $44. 
  • Cowen has an Outperform rating and $95 target.
  • JMP reiterated an Outperform rating and $153 target.
  • Needham has a Strong Buy rating and $94 target.

Related Links:

Esperion Shares Plunge After Cholesterol-Lowering Drug's Phase 3 Results Stir Safety Concerns 

Benzinga's Daily Biotech Pulse: SIGA Rallies On FDA Panel Backing, Rigel And Gilead React To Earnings 

Latest Ratings for ESPR

DateFirmActionFromTo
Oct 2018BTIG ResearchInitiates Coverage OnBuy
Aug 2018CitigroupUpgradesNeutralBuy
Jul 2018Northland SecuritiesDowngradesOutperformMarket Perform

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