Jim Cramer ( The Street ) Valeant Ranked HOLD ( Cooperman Hedge Fund Adds)

RECOMMENDATION

We rate VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTL (VRX) a HOLD.

The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed – some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company’s strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, unimpressive growth in net income and generally higher debt management risk.

HIGHLIGHTS The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 3.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 35.5%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company’s bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.

Net operating cash flow has increased to $736.40 million or 19.02% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -0.70%.

VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTL has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year.

During the past fiscal year, VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTL turned its bottom line around by earning $2.67 versus -$2.62 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($11.32 versus $2.67). The company’s current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization.

In comparison to the other companies in the Pharmaceuticals industry and the overall market, VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTL’s return on equity is significantly below that of the industry average and is below that of the S&P 500. Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock’s performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 43.73%, worse than the S&P 500’s performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company’s earnings per share are down 82.71% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Although its share price is down sharply from a year ago, do not assume that it can now be tagged as cheap and attractive. The reality is that, based on its current price in relation to its earnings, VRX is still more expensive than most of the other companies in its industry.

US pharmaceutical companies are involved in the discovery, manufacturing, distribution, and research of generic and branded drugs. The industry accounts for 27.3% of the healthcare sector and is capital-intensive with exorbitant R&D costs. Most companies are mature and characterized by high margins and higher dividend pay-outs. Major players include Pfizer (PFE), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), and Eli Lilly (LLY).

The industry employs more than 400,000 in the US. The 50 largest companies control over 80% of the market. The industry faces unprecedented challenges from stringent environmental regulations and patent expirations on billion-dollar products. Industry experts believe that generic competition will wipe out more than $60 billion from US industry sales over the next five years as more than three dozen drugs lose patent protection. Merck lost a $3 billion patent protection for its osteoporosis drug Fosamax in 2008 while Eli Lilly lost an estimated 90% of Zyprexa sales. The FDA is rejecting more drugs on safety concerns and a lack of compelling evidence of definite advancement from existing drugs.

The industry depends on federal subsidies for cost reductions. The US government enacted the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA) in 2003 to provide prescription drug benefits to the elderly and disabled. Medicare Part D, a component of MMA, which came into effect in 2006, altered the revenue model of pharma companies. Revenue from such programs is expected to reach $724 billion by 2015 as federal subsidies will lower co-payments and deductibles for specialty drugs.

Horizontal and vertical integration has created health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and pharmacy benefit management firms (PBMs). In order to cut costs and remain competitive, the US pharma majors have been outsourcing research to low-cost service providers in India and China.

The promising era of personalized medicine has begun. Dozens of exciting new drugs for the treatment of dire diseases such as cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s are either on the market or are very close to regulatory approval. The industry has shifted its focus from blockbuster drugs (chemistry-based drugs) to specialized products, geared towards specific disorders. According to government estimates, American drug purchases may reach $497 billion by 2016, supported by a rapidly aging population, inflation, and the introduction of expensive new drugs.

Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors to the list of investors pinched by the rout ofValeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX).

In a quarterly 13-F filing unveiled today, Omega revealed it added a new position in the controversial drug maker to its portfolio during the third quarter that totaled 484,915 shares worth $86.5 million as of Sept. 30. During that three-month period, the stock price ranged from an intraday high of nearly $264 to a low of $152.

Since Sept. 30, when Valeant closed at just over $178, the stock has dropped almost 60% to a recent $73.32. At the most recent price, Omega’s stake is worth roughly $35 million.

Today marks the deadline for big money managers to reveal holdings as of Sept. 30. Firms that wield more than $100 million need to hand over lists of equity holdings within 45 days following the quarter’s end.

Valeant wasn’t the only new position reported by Omega. The fund also added a new stake inPfizer (PFE) totaling 4.8 million shares and a position in Amazon (AMZN) worth $18.3 million.

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