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Cramer on Valeant: New CEO, but it's still rotten at the core

There is no other stock that is more controversial to Jim Cramer than Valeant Pharmaceuticals. And with the stock down more than 90 percent from its all-time highs last year, he decided to take a look at its core assets to see if the beaten-down stock could be a play on value.

Valeant was thrust into the public eye last fall amid accusations of outrageously high drug prices and other controversial business practices. With the stock closing at $23 on Wednesday, some investors have begun to speculate that it is too cheap not to buy.

Valeant was best known as a roll-up structure, meaning it would make acquisitions in order to fuel its growth rate. It would frequently buy a company, and then cut the research and development spending in order to boost short-term profits at the cost of future prospects.

"Now that the company has neither the cash nor the inflated stock price needed to make more acquisitions, they are stuck with a bizarre agglomeration of questionable businesses," the "Mad Money" host said.


Joseph Papa, CEO of Valeant
Ashlee Espinal | CNBC
Joseph Papa, CEO of Valeant
"Even if you forget about the reputational issues, the dangerous debt load and the loss of credibility, Valeant has a pretty negative outlook for all three of its core businesses." -Jim Cramer

The company attributed 10 percent of sales to dermatology, 6 percent from ophthalmology, 15 percent from gastronintestinal drugs and 23 percent from generics. The rest are a various collection of what Cramer described as "cats and dogs divisions."

The biggest division is generic drugs, but since those are a commodity product with no patent protection, the only value that Cramer found was with pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities with poor margins.

Ultimately, Valeant's core business came down to three major units with the potential to differentiate themselves: dermatology, ophthalmology and gastrointestinal divisions.

The company's new CEO Joe Papa announced he wanted to sell key dermatology assets in order to raise cash on Tuesday.

"This unit may be the most troubled part of a very troubled company," Cramer said.

When Valeant reported its first quarter results earlier in the month, U.S. dermatology sales were down 43 percent year-over-year. The key reason was its wind down of a relationship with pharmaceutical distributor Philidor. Additionally, Valeant is now in a fulfillment agreement with Walgreens, and Cramer's research indicated that the average selling prices for those drugs at Walgreens are actually below Valeant's costs.

"Either those earlier dermatology sales were totally illusory, the product of channel stuffing and price gouging, or Valeant is losing share hand over fist to the competition, which in this business is mostly Allergan," Cramer said.

As for its ophthalmology business, it is buttressed by Bausch & Lomb, which has a broad portfolio of eye-care products. Cramer has heard many times that Valeant could raise money if it sold Bausch & Lomb, which it bought for $8.7 billion three years ago.

However, given Valeant's track record, Cramer wouldn't be surprised to see it garner less than that price if it were to sell the business.

Valeant's final proprietary business is its gastrointestinal division, which it received from a $10 billion acquisition of Salix Pharma last year. Even without the generic competition, it was clear to Cramer that Valeant dramatically overpaid for Salix.

"Even if you forget about the reputational issues, the dangerous debt load and the loss of credibility, Valeant has a pretty negative outlook for all three of its core businesses," Cramer said.

That is why Cramer says investors need to stay away from Valeant's stock. Instead, buy its competitors such as Allergan and Johnson & Johnson.

CNBC contacted Valeant for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

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