Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) saw its shares hit a multiyear low on Tuesday after it was announced that Bill Ackman would be selling off his stake in the company and stepping down from the board. Unfortunately for Valeant, with Ackman’s departure he seems to be screaming abandon ship.
Ackman also has been losing a bet against Carl Icahn concerning his massive short position against Herbalife.
An early sign of capitulation might have come last week when Valeant announced that it would be restructuring its debt. According to Wells Fargo, refinancing is a clear indication that the $8 billion of asset sales Valeant hoped for is off the table. The firm further considers Valeant’s refinancing as a last attempt to salvage the company from what it would consider a likely default and restructuring.
At that time, Wells Fargo noted that it suspects that equity holders will be left with less and less of the profit. Furthermore, Wells Fargo expects that Valeant will be a company with fewer options for growth, little takeover chance, a big number of potential legal liabilities and the patent expiry settlement of Xifaxan looming.
These might have been the signs that spooked Ackman into selling, but this has been a long time coming for him. Ackman’s firm, Pershing Square Capital Management, sold off its 8% in Valeant as was announced earlier this week.
As we have said before, the departure really hurts Valeant because not only is it losing perhaps its biggest cheerleader, but also a significant stakeholder and board member.
Ackman may be regretting this investment the most of any in recent memory. Last year, he commented that he regretted his initial investment and actually thought about selling the stake. However, Ackman ultimately decided that he could fix Valeant. And we all saw how this turned out.
The news was not well received on Tuesday, and the sale sent shares to lows not seen since 2009. And it didn’t get better Wednesday morning, with shares down about another 2% just after the opening bell to a new low of $10.67. The 52-week high is $38.50.