Wells Fargo Rings The Alarm On Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX) Amid Drug Price Hikes

At a healthcare conference last week, Joe Papa, CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) indicated that the troubled biotech giant would go back to taking price boosts later this year.

From Wells Fargo analyst David Maris‘ perspective, it is possible VRX is already kick-starting its return to these increases, as Valeant has raised the list price of the following three products by 9.9%, as per Medi-Span CDI data: Atropine Sulfate Ophthalmic Ointment, PrednisoLONE Sodium Phosphate Ophthalmic Solution, and Neomycin-Polymyxin-Gramicidin Ophthalmic Solutions.

Maris specifically underscores the collective price tag of these sales at $1.2 million for the second half of 2016, based on IMS insights, which albeit just a “very small portion” out of VRX’s $2.4 billion posted sales in its second quarter, the analyst believes to be an indicator of a deeper problem.

From Maris’ eyes, “This may be a sign of things to come and a sign that EPS guidance for 2H16 is tight enough that raising price on marginal products is what Valeant feels is necessary.”

Furthermore, the analyst adds to his concerns, “We suspect that 2H16 EPS guidance is challenging for Valeant to make, as evidenced by Valeant’s inability at our recent conference to strongly confirm its guidance,” guidance that would imply 155% incremental growth from adjusted EPS stemming from the first half of this year.

Ultimately, Maris believes VRX is operating under an unsustainable strategy, “as cutting expenses does not increase prescriptions, and with weakness in prescriptions, Valeant is left with its previous strategy of price increases.”

“We continue to believe that items such as lawsuits (like the insider trading suit) and investigations, weak Rx trends, higher than modeled interest expenses, risks to EPS guidance, and a weak pipeline could continue to weigh on the shares,” Maris concludes.

As such, the analyst reiterates an Underperform rating on shares of VRX with a valuation range from $17 to $22, which represents a nearly 38% to a just under 20% increase from where the stock is currently trading.

According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, three-star analyst David Maris is ranked #1,338 out of 4,163 analysts. Maris has a 54% success rate and earns 2.6% in his annual returns. When recommending VRX, Maris gains 5.8% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics exhibit VRX as a Hold. Based on 15 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 5 rate a Buy on VRX, 8 maintain a Hold, while 2 issue a Sell. The 12-month price target stands at $40.92, marking a 49% upside from where the shares last closed.  screen-shot-09-19-16-at-10-15-pm


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