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Top Hedge Funds Toss and Turn Over Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX) Prospects

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) shares have thrashed and plummeted over the last year. The biotech giant that was trading at more than $250 last August is now struggling to keep its mid-twenties stock price afloat. Share falls like this are somewhat of a rarity in the market and consequently, the dip caught much of Wall Street off guard. However, while many shareholders are left turning their backs on the fallen giant, a report reveals that a number of prominent investors continue to believe in the power and possibilities of a Valeant rebound.

Today, analysts continue to cite Valeant’s finances, public image, and reduced influence among its toughest challenges. Yet, hedge fund giants still hold large stakes in Valeant, leaving reason to trust that the firm could still make a massive comeback.

A recent report by WhaleWisdom offers a glimpse into some of the biggest backers of Valeant Pharmaceuticals. WhaleWisdom’s aggregated report shows that more than 330 funds that filed 13Fs during the second quarter owned Valeant shares. Collectively, 219.9 million of the company’s shares were held by leading hedge funds by the end of the second quarter.

The aggregate dipped 49 million shares lower than the first quarter, which then boasted a count of 286.9 million. In spite of the stock’s volatile swings, not only have some of the most reputable fund managers not wavered from Valeant, a number of them significantly raised their VRX shares.

Just over 70 million VRX shares are owned by four specific money managers. ValueAct Holdings’ Jeffery Ubben has 14,994,261 VRX shares, surpassed by Fidelity Asset Management, which holds just over 15.5 million. At the top end, Pershing Square Capital Management has 21,591,122 VRX shares, while Paulson and Co. owns nearly 19.1 million. The latter recently upped its purchase in the second quarter, acquiring over 5.7 million more VRX shares.

Recommended article: Morgan Stanley Analtsts Weigh in on Valeant and Amgen Following Headquarter Visit and FDA CRL

Analysts cite a variety of influences behind the support Valeant has from big-name fund managers. Firstly, the giant is expected to do away with much of its non-primary assets. This could be a critical key in restoring the company’s bruised business model. Valeant claims that this move should pull in a return of around $2 billion, which would account for nearly 20% of its sales forecast for 2016. Several more disposals should rake in a further $8 billion in the foreseeable future.

VRX’s management team has faith that this strategy for non-asset disposal could go a long way towards shedding the giant’s $30.7 billion debt.

A new face inspires confidence in Valeant

Beyond its new financial game plan, Valeant appears to be on the verge of revival. Newly appointed CEO Joseph Papa invokes a lot of much-needed confidence among investors and the public. Papa lead over-the-counter drug maker Perrigo for 10 years before coming to take the helm at Valeant. The move alone boosted Perrigo’s sales up 200%. Flash forward to Papa tackling the challenges awaiting at VRX, and Valeant’s new CEO’s profitable track record could suggest some great business ventures are in store.

An upward change in the course of VRX’s stock and reputation is more likely with a new face in command. Under Papa, Valeant stands to cast off much of its debt and has real potential to repair the PR damages seen under its former CEO, J. Michael Pearson.

Valeant’s money problems

Valeant’s debt stood around $30 billion at its second-quarter earnings call. The biotech giant had funded numerous ventures and acquisitions through borrowings over the years, including the adoption of approved drugs, business takeovers and a few pipeline purchases.

Those who lent money to Valeant were happy to do so while the firm’s value was on the rise. Now, the company’s reduced stock, which is in part due to lenders noticing VRX’s stockpiling debt, makes growth an extremely tricky task. This is made worse by the fact that the giant’s reach is mainly expanded through mergers and acquisitions.

Weakened market authority

Another one of Valeant’s woes lies in its diminishing influence over the drug market. VRX’s pricing power in particular was hurt a great deal when it came clean about misappropriating the prices of two acquired drugs.

Former CEO Pearson reported that a mistake was made in calculating the selling prices of Isuprel and Nitropress. The two cardiovascular remedies were bought in February of last year and underwent price increases of 212% and 525%, respectively. Yet, no chemical amendments or changes in production could be found to back the increases. Industry regulators now keep a watchful eye over Valeant and its prices.

Valeant’s poor public image

Appearance counts a great deal for any company and Valeant’s does not look too good at the moment. The firm’s scandals have done very little to win over investors following a number of investigations suggesting that the company holds a few dishonest tendencies.

Beyond all this, the company cannot seem to shake off the many poor profit projections coming from analysts, a vicious cycle that can bring about an even larger downward pull on stock.

Despite the clear caution surrounding VRX shares, some key investors still anticipate a turnaround from the company. The consensus is that it would take great effort in order to achieve this, but it is far from impossible. However, increased investment will only be achieved through a more trustworthy business model, debt-shedding and better asset management.


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