A More Realistic Bar for Barr Labs

There's a pretty clear problem with stocks priced for perfection -- precious few companies can actually achieve something close to that.

And so I'm not really surprised to see that BarrLabs (NYSE: BRL  ) is almost 20% lower today than when I last wrote about the company. It's a very good generics company that was then trading at a price that just seemed unrealistic.

As I said back in that February piece, growth has continued to be just fine. Revenue was up 23% this quarter, and earnings were up about 24%. Strip out a non-cash charge related to an inventory write-up and you actually have 29% year-over-year EPS growth.

Better still, there's a lot to like about this business's future. The company has 46 ANDA's (Abbreviated New Drug Applications) pending, and although Teva (Nasdaq: TEVA  ) is ahead of them in Paragraph IV prospects, Teva is a much larger company. In fact, on a per-basis basis, I calculate Barr as having a lot more Paragraph IV prospects than either Teva or Mylan (NYSE: MYL  ) . And while Barr won't win every challenge, it has a pretty good track record all the same.

It's also worth remembering that this isn't your run-of-the-mill generic generics company. Barr has largely looked to get out of the commodity generics business, and it has a strong franchise in generic contraception (nearly one-third of overall revenue). Couple that with a fast-growing proprietary drug business, and there's reason to be optimistic.

I wasn't wild about paying up for these shares back in February, but times (and prices) have changed a bit. At today's level, valuation seems more reasonable, and I can see actual upside for new investors. The nature of the business all but promises swoons and upswings, but patient investors might find that Barr Labs is able to hurdle this newly lowered bar.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).


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