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Bill Ackman Thoughts On Valeant Pharma $VRX

Since our last update in August, Valeant has bolstered its management ranks, improved dermatology average selling prices (ASPs), stabilized its salesforces, and experienced acceleration in Salix script trends. Despite these positive developments, financial results  continue to be challenged as certain unexpected events impacted Valeant in Q3 and weakness in Valeant’s U.S. Diversified Products segment continues to weigh on near- to medium-term earnings.  

Valeant reported quarterly revenue of $2.48 billion, Adjusted EBITDA of $1.16 billion and Adjusted EPS of $1.55. This represented sequential improvement of 2%, 7% and 11%, respectively, as the business continues to stabilize following the disruption of recent quarters.  

Beginning this quarter, management provided disclosure under the new financial reporting structure. The business is now aligned across three verticals: (1) Bausch + Lomb / International (“Durable”), (2) Branded Rx (“Growth”), and (3) U.S. Diversified Products (“Cash Generating”). This new disclosure is consistent with Valeant’s commitment to greater transparency. Over time, Valeant has indicated that a substantial mix-shift will take place in its business as Bausch + Lomb / International and Branded Rx target mid-single digit revenue growth (high-single digit operating income growth) while Valeant’s U.S. Diversified Products segment declines. As this mix-shift happens over time, a greater percentage of Valeant’s profits will come from higher quality, higher growth and more valuable businesses.  

In conjunction with announcing Q3 results, management updated 2016 guidance, reducing full year estimates. Full year Adjusted EBITDA and EPS are now projected to be $4.25 billion to $4.35 billion (down from $4.8 billion - $4.95 billion) and $5.30 to $5.50, respectively (down from $6.60 to $7.00). Implicit in updated guidance is a sequential decline in Q4 versus Q3. Management addressed some of the key factors on the earnings call contributing to this dynamic, some of which are permanent headwinds while others are temporary.  

Valeant management provided initial perspectives on 2017 results on the earnings call including an expectation for Bausch + Lomb / International and Branded Rx to achieve mid-single-digit revenue growth and high-single-digit operating profit growth. Management anticipates that this growth will be more than offset by the decline in U.S. Diversified Products (specifically the neurology and generics business) as a result of patent expirations and generic competition. Management announced the planned implementation of a zero-based-budgeting initiative, expected to save $75 to $100 million in 2017 and a goal to improve gross profit by $150 to $250 million by 2020 through supply chain rationalization

Management reiterated its commitment to achieve more than $5 billion of debt reduction over the next 18 months from a combination of cash generation and asset divestitures. We believe that asset sales are an important catalyst for value creation and stock price appreciation at Valeant. Valeant has identified approximately $8 billion of assets that are non-core which it has begun to market for sale.