Is Valeant for Real This Time?

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When Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) released its first-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Tuesday, it totally shocked investors. This stock has trended lower for a long time and has actually lost 90% to 95% of its value since the summer of 2015. With earnings this positive and shares responding as a result, investors have to wonder if Valeant is for real this time, or is this just a head fake.

It’s worth noting that during this quarter, notorious activist investor Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Management dumped its entire stake (more than 18 million shares) in Valeant in mid-March, taking a loss of more than 95%. Shares traded at an all-time high over $250 in mid-2015.

The company posted $1.79 in earnings per share (EPS) and revenues of $2.11 billion, compared with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $0.60 in EPS and revenue of $1.59 billion. In the same period a year ago, Valeant reported a loss per share of $1.08 on revenues of $2.37 billion.

These lower revenues were driven by reduced volumes in the company’s U.S. Diversified Products and Branded Rx segments, which came from the loss of exclusivity on “a number” of products and “challenging market dynamics.” At the same time, revenues were negatively affected by foreign currencies, divestitures and discontinuations, and a modest decrease in average realized pricing.

In terms of outlook for the 2017 full year, the company raised its guidance for adjusted EBITDA to a new range of $3.60 billion to $3.75 billion from a previous $3.55 billion to $3.70 billion. The guidance includes the impact of sales of certain skin-care brands but does not include the impact of the sale of the Dendreon business, which is expected to close midyear. The Thomson Reuters consensus is calling for revenues of $1.09 billion for the full year.

Joseph C. Papa, CEO of Valeant, was obviously happy with the results and commented:

Our first quarter performance demonstrates that we are delivering on our commitments. We met our internal expectations, and we are continuing to make progress on our key initiatives, focus on the turnaround of our core businesses and improve internal operating efficiencies. Our divestiture efforts and cash flow generation have led to a $3.6 billion reduction in total debt to date, since the end of the first quarter of 2016, and our successful debt refinancing provides us with a more comfortable maturity profile.

Shares of Valeant were last seen up 20% at $11.67 on Tuesday, with a 52-week trading range of $8.31 to $32.74.