Guardant Had Colon Cancer Data, But Rival Exact Popped — Here’s Why

Guardant Health (GH) and Exact Sciences (EXAS) are in a “win-win situation,” an analyst said Thursday as EXAS stock surged on a comparison with Guardant in colon cancer detection.


Ahead of a key meeting in June, Guardant Health said its blood test for colon cancer showed 91% sensitivity and 94% specificity in a test known as a case-control study. This means the test called Lunar 2 detected 91% of positive colon cancer cases and ruled out 94% of negatives.

Exact Sciences is the leader in early colon cancer detection. Investors in EXAS stock seek a key study from Guardant this year — dubbed Eclipse — to determine how Guardant could compete. These results suggest Guardant’s Lunar 2 might trail Exact’s Cologuard in sensitivity and specificity.

Evercore ISI analyst Vijay Kumar called the results a “win-win situation.”

“Guardant will likely exceed (U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ reimbursement) bar handily and provide a new option for screening,” he said in a report to clients. “For Exact, we expect the clinical performance to be superior to Guardant and (it) should continue to be the leading test.”

EXAS Stock Pops On Comparison

On the stock market today, EXAS stock popped 9.2% to 105.74. Guardant stock jumped 4.5% to 119.72.

The companies are taking different approaches to colon cancer detection. Guardant Health’s Lunar 2 is a blood test, while Exact Sciences’ Cologuard is an at-home stool test.

In Exact’s pivotal study for Cologuard, the test had 94% sensitivity and 87% specificity, UBS analyst Dan Brennan said in a report. Those numbers declined from Exact’s case-control study. Guardant is likely to see the same type of sensitivity decline in its pivotal Eclipse study, he said.

“However, a modest decline (to below Cologuard) can be acceptable given the benefits of a blood-based test,” he said.

Brennan kept his neutral rating and 139 price target on EXAS stock.

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.


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