Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (PTLA) is better stock pick than Ultra Petroleum Corp. (UPL)

The shares of Ultra Petroleum Corp. have decreased by more than -88.41% this year alone. The shares recently went up by 1.45% or $0.02 and now trades at $1.05. The shares of Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:PTLA), has slumped by -48.29% year to date as of 08/15/2018. The shares currently trade at $25.17 and have been able to report a change of -33.27% over the past one week.

The stock of Ultra Petroleum Corp. and Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. were two of the most active stocks on Wednesday. Investors seem to be very interested in what happens to the stocks of these two companies but do investors favor one over the other? We will analyze the growth, profitability, risk, valuation, and insider trends of both companies and see which one investors prefer.

Profitability and Returns

Growth alone cannot be used to see if the company will be valuable. Shareholders will be the losers if a company invest in ventures that aren’t profitable enough to support upbeat growth. In order for us to accurately measure profitability and return, we will be using the EBITDA margin and Return on Investment (ROI), which balances the difference in capital structure. UPL has an EBITDA margin of 34.94%, this implies that the underlying business of UPL is more profitable. The ROI of UPL is 52.00% while that of PTLA is -60.40%. These figures suggest that UPL ventures generate a higher ROI than that of PTLA.

Cash Flow

The value of a stock is ultimately determined by the amount of cash flow that the investors have available. Over the last 12 months, UPL’s free cash flow per share is a negative -0.01, while that of PTLA is also a negative -0.41.

Liquidity and Financial Risk

The ability of a company to meet up with its short-term obligations and be able to clear its longer-term debts is measured using Liquidity and leverage ratios. The current ratio for UPL is 0.50 and that of PTLA is 7.60. This implies that it is easier for UPL to cover its immediate obligations over the next 12 months than PTLA.


UPL currently trades at a forward P/E of 1.14, and a P/S of 0.34 while PTLA trades at a P/B of 5.36, and a P/S of 88.23. This means that looking at the earnings, book values and sales basis, UPL is the cheaper one. It is very obvious that earnings are the most important factors to investors, thus analysts are most likely to place their bet on the P/E.

Analyst Price Targets and Opinions

The mistake some people make is that they think a cheap stock has more value to it. In order to know the value of a stock, there is need to compare its current price to its likely trading price in the future. The price of UPL is currently at a -72% to its one-year price target of 3.75. Looking at its rival pricing, PTLA is at a -55.32% relative to its price target of 56.33.

When looking at the investment recommendation on say a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being a strong buy, 3 a hold, and 5 a sell), UPL is given a 2.50 while 1.70 placed for PTLA. This means that analysts are more bullish on the outlook for UPL stocks.

Insider Activity and Investor Sentiment

Short interest or otherwise called the percentage of a stock’s tradable shares currently being shorted is another data that investors use to get a handle on sentiment. The short ratio for UPL is 7.75 while that of PTLA is just 7.28. This means that analysts are more bullish on the forecast for PTLA stock.


The stock of Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. defeats that of Ultra Petroleum Corp. when the two are compared, with PTLA taking 4 out of the total factors that were been considered. PTLA happens to be more profitable, generates a higher ROI, has higher cash flow per share, higher liquidity and has a lower financial risk. When looking at the stock valuation, PTLA is the cheaper one on an earnings, book value and sales basis. Finally, the sentiment signal for PTLA is better on when it is viewed on short interest.

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