Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., long the sick man of the pharma world, actually had a decent 2017.
(Related: The Real Lesson of Valeant’s Debacle)
It chipped away at its massive debt pile, pushed some debt obligations into the future, and stabilized parts of its business. But Valeant’s 2017 results and 2018 guidance, released Wednesday morning, illustrate we still don’t know when its long-promised turnaround will arrive — or where its bottom will be.
Even as it sold businesses throughout 2017 in order to pay down debt, Valeant consistently maintained Ebitda guidance — encouraging for a company that once habitually slashed targets. It delivered on that guidance Wednesday, albeit at the low end of its range.
But Valeant’s 2017 results owed largely to some of its older medicines facing slightly less competition than expected — not to especially good performance of its own. Excluding currency impact and divestitures, the firm’s Bausch & Lomb/International unit grew by 4% last year. But its branded drug and “diversified product” segments declined by 8% and 12 %, respectively.
Valeant’s problems weren’t averted, just pushed into the future. The company’s 2018 projections of $3.05-$3.2 billion in adjusted Ebitda and $8.1-$8.2 billion in revenue missed analyst expectations. They reflect more than $1 billion in lost revenue from divestitures and discontinuations and competition for older drugs.
Valeant touted its progress on stabilization and debt reduction on its earnings call Wednesday. But as Edison Director of Health Care Research Maxim Jacobs highlighted on Twitter, the firm’s debt-to-Ebitda ratio hasn’t actually moved in the past year. Though the company doesn’t have to pay down significant debt until 2020, its leverage will continue to hang over it.