Shares of Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA - Free Report) gained more than 10% in early morning trading Thursday after news emerged Wednesday that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B - Free Report) took a massive stake in the struggling drugmaker during the fourth quarter.
Berkshire disclosed the holding—worth about $358 million—in the famous conglomerate’s latest quarterly filing. Shares of Teva were down nearly 50% over the past year before Buffett’s firm announced its stake.
The purchase indicates that Teva’s recent slump has dragged the stock into the value territory that Buffett typically targets. The generic drug giant has faced significant headwinds lately, but Berkshire could be well positioned to benefit from the company’s planned turnaround.
Nevertheless, a quick glance at Teva’s current fundamental situation suggests that this turnaround may be easier said than done. The firm’s core business has been hammered by a lower U.S. generic drug prices and increased competition—causing management to take out massive loans to protect from its shrinking profit margins.
After losing half of its value in 2016, Teva initiated a strategic shift meant to address its new debt issues and identify its strongest businesses. Reports from last summer indicated that the company was looking to ramp up asset sales, putting several of its global brands—including its respiratory treatment assets and the Iceland-based drugmaker Medis—on the chopping block.
But Teva’s commitment to solving its looming debt crisis was not enough for investors in 2017, and the stock shed another 50% over the course of a difficult year.
“We believe that Teva’s disappointing generic business performance will take more time to improve given a combination of the generic industry’s intensifying secular challenges and Teva’s own difficulty in executing on its pipeline,” wrote Morgan Stanley analyst David Risinger in August.
Teva is currently sporting a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). But the stock does hold an “A” grade for Value in our Style Scores system, and these attractive valuation metrics likely inspired Buffett and Berkshire to make a play on the stock.
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