Sarah Roden

About the Author Sarah Roden

Sarah writes about stock market news for TipRanks. She graduated as member of Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.

Phillipe Laffont’s Latest Investment Moves: Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX) and Facebook Inc (FB)

Phillipe Laffont is the driving force behind Coatue Management LLC; a hedge fund that is heavily invested in the technology sector. In the last three years, the hedge fund has delivered an annualized return of 19.21%. However most recently, in the first quarter of 2016, Coatue Management fell by 3.29% with Laffont’s portfolio now valued at $8.01 billion. Let’s take a closer look at two of the hedge fund’s more significant holdings: Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc

Laffont completely sold all of his Valeant shares in the first quarter of 2016, joining the ranks of other prominent hedge funds separating themselves from the embattled pharmaceutical company. Valeant, backed by activist investor Bill Ackman, has plummeted nearly 80% year-to-date as the company navigates one scandal after another.

Beginning last summer, Valeant came under congressional scrutiny for its drug pricing strategy after the company exponentially increased prices for two heart medications. This garnered significant media attention alongside headlines of Martin Shkreli’s stunt that exponentially increased the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 overnight. As instances of Valeant increasing prices on several other drugs began to compile, the company received a federal subpoena.

Next, Valeant’s accounting prices were called into question as uncertainties arose surrounding the company’s relationship with specialty pharmacy, Philidor. Analysts began to compare the scandal to the likes of Enron, but Valeant vehemently defended itself. To clear the air, Valeant cut all ties with Philidor and later announced a deal with Walgreens. Throughout most of this ordeal, CEO Michael Pearson was out on sick leave. With all this commotion, bad press, plummeting share prices, and accounting question it came as no surprise that there was a mad rush to the exit for several prominent hedge funds invested in the company.

Analysts on TipRanks remain cautious on Valeant, with 8 analysts recommending to hold, 5 recommending to buy, and 3 recommending to sell. Despite this cautious sentiment, many hope the health care giant can turn itself around. A new CEO, Joe Papa, has stepped in and reset expectations by lowering 2016 revenue guidance yet again. The company has appointed a new Accounting Chief, Sam Eldessouky, who has moved up from corporate controller, though Robert Rosiello will remain CFO. Many analysts view this appointment as an additional step to re-gain investor trust.

While Laffont’s Coatue Management has cleared its stake in the company, it looks like Valeant is gearing up to reclaim its former glory in the pharmaceutical industry.

Facebook Inc

While Facebook remains the largest holding in Laffont’s portfolio, comprising 8% of his overall holdings, he slightly reduced his holdings in the social media giant by 14% in the first quarter of 2016. Now, Laffont holds 5.6 million shares of the company valued at $646.9 million.

Laffont stat 1

Facebook has increased nearly 9% year-to-date and nearly 40% in the last 12 months. It remains one of the most widely-covered stocks, according to TipRanks, with 35 analysts recommending buying it and only 2 recommending hold. Hedge funds also remain bullish on the tech giant as 50 prominent hedge funds increased their holdings in Facebook by 4.6 million shares in the first quarter of 2016.

Facebook has continued to grow as the social media site works to integrate itself into more aspects of everyday life. While user growth remains a concern, revenue remains strong as the company’s advertising efforts grow. Instagram, purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, now boasts over 500 million monthly active users, compared to 300 million just two years ago. As Instragram grows to be as omnipresent as Facebook is, analysts are bullish about the growing advertising opportunities on the photo sharing platform.

While Facebook remains Laffont’s largest holding, it closely followed by other technology giants such as Microsoft and Netflix, which each comprise about 7% of his total holdings.


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