Julie Lamb

About the Author Julie Lamb

Julie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a focus on creative writing from the University of Louisville.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX): A Decisive Fight Between Bulls and Bears

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) has surely rocked the boat with investors time and time again, badgered by a siege of predicaments, from legal controversy sapping confidence to the financial well continuing to run dry. Yet, there are those out on the Street that staunchly remain in Valeant’s corner, tried-and-true, just as actively as those sprinting just as adamantly in the opposite direction. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of this divisive stock:

The Bullish Case

The bulls are going to predominantly focus on the biggest triumph the biotech giant has swept in a while: plaque psoriasis drug Brodalumab (brand name: Siliq) just secured FDA approval, gaining back some positive press and assurance for shareholders along the way.

Siliq targets adult patients whose other therapies have either failed or are no longer responding well. On the heels of clearing the FDA gates, prospective revenue is anticipated to kick-start by the back half of this year and really hit the pedal from 2018 through 2019. An advantage Siliq has in capturing a psoriasis market that circles potentially $10 billion in value is an edge in efficacy over rival Johnson & Johnson¬†drug Stelara. Considering Valeant’s rival has already raked in $3 billion, those in favor of investing in Valeant believe Siliq’s markedly better efficacy will garner even more in profits.

Meanwhile, with the ragged stock assuaging debt load by jettisoning assets, the bullish camp believes that cash flow balance will recover at the end of the tunnel. As long as there are assets to delever, there will be a biotech giant prepping to emerge from the fires once again.

Those who are bullish are keeping eyes peeled toward long-term tenacity to enable VRX to stick it out, even amid short-term predicaments that have recently shackled the giant.

The Bearish Case

Bears do not question that Siliq’s approval is a crucial grand slam for the troubled biotech giant. But the real question lingers nonetheless: Will Siliq’s green light withstand the rest of the troubles beleaguering Valeant?

Because AstraZeneca¬†has partnered with VRX on Siliq, not all the profits will go to VRX- a company that severely needs all the funds it can muster up. AZN already has received the $100 million milestone payment from VRX as specified in the arrangement, but future milestone payments are still forthcoming, from a pre-launch payment of up to $170 million as well as a post-launch payment of up to $175 million. Moreover, we do not know how profits will be split moving forward; only that they will be shared amongst the two firms. Valeant’s EBITDA margins might not be bolstered quite as much as the bullish camp foresees considering profits will be sifted over to AZN in the process.

Next, it is important to spotlight the FDA win comes with a black box warning attached. In the drug’s 6,200 enrollment trial, 2 patients had a positive psychiatric history, but 4 did not; these 6 subjects committed suicide. It is questionable whether these subjects might already have been at risk for suicide with the debilitating condition of psoriasis. As a result, Siliq will only be made available via a restricted Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, i.e. a “REMS” program. Additionally, patients will be informed of suicidal behavior risks. VRX has set goals to meet $600 million in sales by 2020, and with the shadow of 6 suicides in the backdrop of the black box warning, the addressable market might take notice, with an added gamble for coming up short of expectations.

The hardships encumbering the giant in regards to the fundamental debt issues at hand continue to weigh heavily on investors. It would take a long shot success to be able to generate enough funds to ease Valeant’s strangled cash flow, and some see through Valeant’s management relying on smoke-and-mirrors tactics to distract the public from its deeper problems at hand. In the grander picture, with bleeding cash and clinical prospects that will not help in the short-term, sentiment on the Street has certainly soured on the giant. VRX continues to sell asset after asset in hopes of recovery, but the bears are not convinced industry trends bode well for the troubled stock in the long run.

TipRanks analytics show VRX as a Hold. Based on 11 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 1 rates a Buy on Valeant stock, 7 maintain a Hold, while 3 issue a Sell on the stock. The 12-month average price target stands at $17.60, marking a nearly 9% upside from where the stock is currently trading.

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