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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Actavis, BP, Total, Petrobras and Devon Energy

CHICAGO, May 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Actavis, Inc.'s (NYSE: ACT), BP plc (NYSE: BP), Total SA (NYSE: TOT), Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) and Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE: DVN).


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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

FDA Accepts Actavis NDA

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently accepted Actavis, Inc.'s (NYSE: ACT) new drug application for its oral contraceptive candidate. The company is looking to get its progestin-only transdermal contraceptive patch (norethindrone transdermal delivery system) approved for the prevention of pregnancy.

With the FDA granting standard review to the NDA, a response should be out by Dec 27, 2013. The NDA was submitted on Feb 26, 2013 and includes data from a 12-month, multicenter, open-label study.

The once-weekly dosing regimen of the patch could help improve compliance and convenience in progestin-only contraceptive users.

Actavis is working on strengthening its women's health business. Earlier this year, the company acquired Belgium-based Uteron Pharma. With this acquisition, Actavis gained a portfolio of two late-stage, one mid-stage and several early-stage pipeline candidates.

Uteron's two-late stage candidates are Levosert, an intrauterine device (IUD) for long-term contraception and the treatment of heavy bleeding and Diafert, a non-invasive immunoassay kit for the determination of the quality of oocyte (egg) during in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

While Levosert is currently under review in several EU countries, Diafert could obtain EU approval later this year. As far as the US is concerned, Levoset is currently in phase III development. Diafert is slated to enter into phase III development this year in the US.

Estelle, Uteron's mid-stage pipeline candidate, is a contraceptive that could be launched in 2018.

Actavis currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). With fewer major patent expiries slated to occur in the next few years, we are encouraged by Actavis' focus on building its branded and biosimilars pipeline.

BP Wins Brazilian Acreage


The U.K. supermajor BP plc (NYSE: BP) along with its partners Total SA (NYSE: TOT), Petroleo Brasileiro S.A., or Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) and Petrogal have emerged as winning bidders for the deepwater acreage in Brazil's National Petroleum Agency's (ANP) eleventh bidding round. This represents the first bidding round held since Dec 2008 and the first under Brazil's new petroleum law.

BP and partners will explore for oil and gas in eight deepwater blocks including FZA-M-57, FZA-M-59, FZA-M-86, FZA-M-88, FZA-M-125, and FAZ-M-127 in the Foz do Amazonas basin, BAR-M-346 in the Barreirinhas basin, and POT-M-764 in the Potiguar basin. Under the Brazilian concession regime, the companies will have the legal right to develop any commercial discovery.

BP will operate block FZA-M-59 with a 70% stake and block BAR-M-346 with a 50% stake. The next step of BP and its partners involves working with ANP to finalize the awards. The signing of the contracts is scheduled for Aug 2013.

The contract award follows BP's re-entry into Brazil's upstream market in 2011 with its purchase of interests from Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE: DVN) and acquisition of interests in four Petrobras-operated deepwater blocks in Brazil's equatorial belt in 2012.

Winning these blocks will help BP in achieving its strategy of optimizing its global portfolio and repositioning itself for long-term growth. The energy giant has created a large portfolio of upstream interests in Brazil over the last two years. Currently, the company is aggressively pursuing exploration in this new acreage that presents significant upside potential over the long term.

BP's presence in Brazil dates back to 1957. The oil giant has significant business interests in the region even after the sale. It operates in Brazil through four businesses – exploration and production (BP Energy do Brasil), biofuels (BP Biocombustíveis), aviation fuel (Air BP) and lubricants (Castrol).

BP carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), which is equivalent to a short-term Hold rating.


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