Is Endo next on Valeant's crosshairs?

The pharmaceutical company's new CEO formerly worked for the Canadian company, long a rumored suitor.

By Stock Traders Daily Mar 7, 2013 12:44PM
Pills SuperStockBy Barry S. Cohen, Stock Traders Daily

Is Endo Pharmaceuticals' (ENDP) new CEO there to revive the Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania producer of specialty pharmaceutical solutions or oversee an orderly transition to new ownership? I'm betting on the latter.

Why else would the company see a huge jump in its shares earlier this week driven by unprecedented volume? Endo had just been downgraded by Piper Jaffray (PJC) to "underweight" from "neutral" with a price target of $22 due to an uncertain outlook for generic drugs.

In December, Endo lowered its 2013 forecast for earnings per share to a range of $4.40 to $4.70 on revenue of between $2.80 billion to $2.95 billion. That's down from the month-prior prediction of an earnings per share of $5.20 to $5.40 and revenue of $3 billion to $3.02 billion.

On top of that, last week the company reported a revenue gain of more than $750 million for the fourth quarter of 2012, up just under 7% but short of analyst projections. On the positive side, earnings per share increased 26.5% from $1.28 in the previous quarter, which was higher than Wall Street expected.

That a buyout may be in the works was undoubtedly driven by the company where Endo's new CEO formerly worked -- Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX), long a rumored suitor. Come March 18, Rajiv De Silva will become Endo's head honcho, replacing retiring CEO David Holveck.

De Silva has been with Valeant since 2009, serving as president and also acting as chief operating officer of its specialty pharmaceuticals branch. Previously, he was a senior executive with Novartis (NVS). De Silva expressed excitement about his new role, pledging to commit to top-line growth, improve cost management, and create shareholder value. Want to know the best way to play this potential buyout? Consult our real time trading reports.

Will he get the chance? Methinks not, at least under the Endo name. I say he's a Trojan horse, brought in to mastermind the changeover to new ownership. That would certainly make the folks at Fidelity Investments happy. As Endo's largest shareholder, they've been clamoring for a buyout that would enable Fidelity to recapture some, if not all, of the more than 17% the company has lost in market value during the past year.

A takeover would also move Valeant one step closer to its quest to join the ranks of Big Pharma, with sales in the $20 billion range. The Canadian company already gobbled up dermatology firm Medicis for $2.6 billion in December. But Valeant might have to move fast to claim Endo. Rumors persist that Warner Chilcott (WCRX) and Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) also have their sights on Endo.

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