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Zacks’ Insights: Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX), Apple Inc. (AAPL)

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc

Only a few things in life are certain: death, taxes, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) making headlines. Well, at least that’s what is has seemed like for the past several months, and the insanity that is VRX is continuing this week with a fresh swath of news from the company.

The first interesting thing to note is that the T. Rowe Price Health Sciences Fund, which held a 6.37% stake in Valeant at the end of 2015, revealed that it sold 90% of its position in the company during the first quarter.

Interestingly enough, this T. Rowe Price fund is managed by Taymour Tamaddon, who has been one of Valeant’s biggest supporters for years. As Forbes reports, Tamaddon has recommended Valeant since his days as a junior analyst over a decade ago, so it is certainly noteworthy that he and his fund have basically moved on.

While Tamaddon may finally be getting bearish on Valeant, another notable investor recently announced their support for VRX as a long-term hold. Andrew Left, founder of short-selling firm Citron Research, told Real Money yesterday that he “wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a bounce” in the embattled drug stock.

“I don’t think they’re going to make any decisions that are going to torpedo the company,” Left said in the interview.

Speaking of company decisions, Valeant has certainly made a few interesting ones recently. First of all, the company announced that it will reward some of its top executives with multi-million dollar bonuses after navigating the company through “challenging times.”

Chief financial officer Robert L. Rosiello, and executives Dr. Ari Kellen and Anne C. Whitaker will rake in $1 million retention bonuses in 2016 following the company’s many recent struggles, including an accounting scandal, regulatory investigations, and pricing criticisms.

Valeant also announced that it would be expanding a discount program for Nitropress and Isuprel, two expensive heart drugs. The company said that all hospitals are now eligible for at least a 10% rebate on the drugs, with some qualifying for a rebate of 40%.

“Under this new program, the discounts we previously implemented for Nitropress and Isuprel will be simplified and more accessible,” said Valeant chief executive Joseph Papa.

Valeant previously received criticism for its pricing of Nitropress and Isuprel. The company acquired the treatments in February of last year and immediately raised the prices of the already-established drugs.

It is certainly shaping up to be another busy week for Valeant and its investors with all of this news. As always, you’ll want to keep your eyes on the headlines for the latest regarding this stock.

Out of the 21 analysts polled by TipRanks in the past 3 months, 7 rate Valeant stock a Buy, 10 rate the stock a Hold and 4 recommend a Sell. With a return  potential of 160%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $73.94.

Apple Inc.

As per the latest 13-F filing released on Monday, the legendary billionaire and philanthropist – Warren Buffett – initiated a new position in the technology giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) during the first quarter. Berkshire Hathaway bought 9.81 million shares of Apple worth about $1.07 billion as of March 31.

This reflects Berkshire’s changing views toward the technology sector, after long been wary of investing in technology companies apart from International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM).

The move has come at a time when the gadget maker is struggling with lower iPhone sales and weakness in the Chinese smartphone market. This is especially true as iPhone sales grew at the slowest pace in the fiscal first quarter since it was introduced in 2007 and witnessed the first-ever decline in the fiscal second quarter. Additionally, the iPhone maker reported its first quarterly revenue drop in 13 years in its latest result.

The sluggish results pushed Apple shares to the lowest level since 2014 last week. As a result, the value of the investment dropped significantly by 16.4% since the start of the second quarter through May 13. However, the stock was up 3.7% on the day following the news of Buffett’s position in the Apple stock.

Investors should note that Berkshire’s stake in Apple is contrary to many other hedge fund managers who abandoned the stock this year. Last month, activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed that it has exited its position in the tech giant. David Tepper also dumped his entire stake in the stock and David Einhorn has been trimming his stake in Apple, as per the latest filings.

Out of the 51 analysts polled by TipRanks, 31 rate Apple stock a Buy, 4 rate the stock a Hold and 1 recommends a Sell. With a return potential of 32.4%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $125.80

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