Billionaire hedge fund manager William Ackman told television station CNBC on Monday that embattled drug company Valeant Pharmaceuticals has no plans to sell any "crown jewel" assets and that he stuck with his bet on the company because he thought he could "fix it."
Valeant's stock price tumbled some 80 percent since Ackman invested in 2015, but the fund manager said the company is now on a better path with a new chief executive.
Future growth will be fueled by more sales instead of sharp price increases. And it "will have an investment grade balance sheet sometime within the next two to three years without selling one asset," Ackman said.
Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management owns 9 percent of Valeant, and the fund manager joined the board five weeks ago, not long after his firm's Vice Chairman Steve Fraidin became a director.
Speaking at length for the first time since Valeant named Joe Papa as chief executive to replace Michael Pearson and it filed its delayed annual report on Friday, Ackman defended the company and gave hints of what is ahead.
At some point the Valeant name may be jettisoned, Ackman said, acknowledging that company employees are now embarrassed to say they work for the company. Valeant's aggressive accounting tactics and practice of pushing up prices on newly acquired drugs has hurt the company, putting it into the crosshairs of other prominent investors.
Ackman jumped to Valeant's defense, saying Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, seen an investing sage along with his partner Warren Buffett, was wrong to "indict" a whole company when Munger called Valeant a "sewer" at Berkshire's annual shareholder meeting in Omaha over the weekend.
Changes at Valeant could also include price cuts on some drug prices, Ackman said, noting that management and the board understood the anger shown toward the company by lawmakers and investors.
As Ackman spoke, Valeant's stock cut its losses by nearly half to trade at $32 per share.