April 29, 2015 / 11:44 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-Drugmaker Valeant raises forecasts, says CFO to leave

(Adds comments on CFO’s exit, share activity)

By Rosmi Shaji and Rod Nickel

April 29 (Reuters) - Drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc raised its earnings and sales forecasts for the year on Wednesday and said its chief financial officer will step down.

The Laval, Quebec-based company, whose top-selling products are heart treatment Isuprel and anti-depressant Wellbutrin, also reported profit and revenue for the first quarter that beat market estimates, helped by a 39 percent jump in U.S. sales.

Valeant shares rose in early trade in Toronto and New York.

Valeant said Howard Schiller, the company’s chief financial officer since December 2011, will step down once a replacement is found.

Schiller, 53, said he is leaving to pursue other interests, likely with a private company, but would remain on Valeant’s board and seek re-election in May.

Schiller’s move is disappointing to investors, BMO analyst Alex Arfaei said in a note. “Valeant is a controversial company with complex, heavily scrutinized financials. Mr. Schiller has essentially been the explainer in chief.”

Schiller collected $23.7 million worth of stock awards in 2014 as he reached the three-year mark with Valeant.

The company, which lost a bid to buy Botox maker Allergan Inc in November, is often criticized for a growth plan that is driven by acquisitions and cost-cutting.

Chief Executive Michael Pearson said he was disappointed that Schiller is leaving.

Valeant said it expects 2015 revenue of $10.4-$10.6 billion, up from its previous estimate of $9.2-$9.3 billion, an increase that reflects about $1 billion in sales from its acquisition of gastrointestinal drugmaker Salix, which closed April 1. It raised its adjusted profit forecast to $10.90-$11.20 per share from $10.10-$10.40.

Pearson said he is reluctant to use stock to make another major acquisition, but did not rule it out.

“We are not right now out there looking for a large deal,” he said. “But we will continue to be opportunistic.”

Valeant said sales in the United States rose to $1.40 billion in the first quarter, ended March 31. The country accounts for nearly two-thirds of Valeant’s total revenue.

Net income attributable to shareholders was $73.7 million, or 21 cents per share, in the quarter, compared with a loss of $22.6 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier.

Cash earnings, which exclude one-time items, were $2.36 per share, versus analysts’ average estimate of $2.34, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 16 percent to $2.19 billion, ahead of the Wall Street estimate of $2.15 billion. (Reporting by Rosmi Shaji in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Maju Samuel, Sayantani Ghosh and Peter Galloway)

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