Valeant raises 2015 guidance, reassures investors as CFO set to leave

MONTREAL – Valeant Pharmaceuticals reassured investors by raising its earnings guidance for the year even though one of the architects of its aggressive growth is leaving his post as chief financial officer.

Howard Schiller, 53, will stand for re-election to the Quebec-based company’s board of directors but will step down from the management position when a successor is found.

Following a series of acquisitions, the company’s market capitalization has increased five-fold to nearly US$70 billion in the 3 1/2 years since Schiller joined the company.

“Valeant’s business has never been stronger and its prospects have never been brighter,” he said during a conference call Wednesday about Valeant’s first-quarter results.

Valeant (TSX:VRX) beat analyst estimates and boosted its 2015 estimates to account for about US$1 billion of additional revenue and higher planned cost savings from Salix Pharmaceuticals.

The company conducted a bidding war for Salix during the first quarter and closed the US$11.1-billion deal on April 1, which marked the beginning of its second quarter.

As a result, Valeant said Wednesday that it’s raising the company’s full-year revenue estimate for 2015 to between US$10.4 billion and US$10.6 billion, up from the previous estimate of between US$9.2 billion and $9.3 billion. Adjusted earnings are forecast to be US$10.90 to US$11.20 per share, up from the prior estimate of US$10.10 to US$10.40 per share.

In 2016, adjusted EPS is expected to increase by at least 20 per cent and pre-tax operating income (EBITDA) to surpass US$7.5 billion.

Neil Maruoka of Canaccord Genuity said the acquisition of Salix allows Valeant to “blow expectations out of the water.”

“We believe this highlights the strength of the Salix acquisition… which is now more accretive than thought,” he wrote in a report.

In the first quarter ended March 31, Valeant reporting in U.S. dollars earned $73.7 million or 21 cents per diluted share, compared to a loss of $22.6 million or seven cents per share a year earlier.

Revenues grew 16 per cent to $2.2 billion, but were up 27 per cent excluding the impact of foreign exchange and last year’s sale of the aesthetics business.

Adjusted profits were $2.36 per share, two cents above analyst forecasts.

“We had very strong same-store organic growth of greater than 15 per cent driven by the strong performance from most of our business units around the world,” chairman and

The company plans to use free cash flow to reduce its hefty debt and for small acquisitions.

CEO Michael Pearson told analysts that company doesn’t expect to do a deal the size of Salix this year and isn’t looking for another large deal.

“But we will continue to be opportunistic and do whatever makes sense for our shareholders,” Pearson said.

Valeant’s improved results were achieved despite challenges in some emerging markets caused in part by currency headwinds. While some of these markets are volatile, the company expects a continuation of 10 per cent organic growth.

Pearson said Russia is “settling down,” business in improving in Latin America and Middle East and North Africa hold strong promise.

“So again it’s a bit of a bet on macroeconomics, but these countries continue to get more wealthy and health care continues to increase as a per cent of GDP,” he said.

Follow @RossMarowits on Twitter