Shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:VRX) have had an awesome year. The share price has more than doubled over the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has posted gains of around 20% over the same time period.

Acquisition spree
A big factor in the price movement is the company's acquisitive nature. 2014 has been a very active year for the company thus far, considering that it has already announced the second of two acquisitions. Having purchased Solta Medical for a total consideration of $250 million in January, Valeant has now decided to acquire PreCision Dermatology for $475 million, as it seeks to expand its skin care business.

The deal seems to make sense for Valeant, with PreCision Dermatology manufacturing treatments for various skin ailments, including acne and atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic skin inflammation.

Although PreCision is set to generate a relatively small amount of revenue in 2014 compared to Valeant's total top line ($130 million versus $5.7 billion), Valeant has stated that the acquisition will enhance earnings from its completion, which is expected to take place over the summer. The deal seems to make sense for Valeant, with PreCision Dermatology manufacturing treatments for various skin ailments, including acne and atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic skin inflammation. It would appear to complement Valeant's dermatology offering and, therefore, seems to be a logical bolt-on acquisition.

Meanwhile, the acquisition of Solta adds brands such as Thermage and Liposonix to Valeant's stable, with Thermage being a unique radiofrequency treatment that renews the collagen in loose skin and Liposonix being a fat reduction treatment.

Further deals
Of course, the two acquisitions made by Valeant are not the only pieces of mergers and acquisition activity that have taken place in the pharmaceutical space in recent weeks.

Indeed behemoth Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), recently announced the sale of its blood testing unit to Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, for a little more than $4 billion. The sale forms part of a wider strategy to divest what Johnson & Johnson views as slower growth assets, as it seeks to revitalize sales figures that have not kept pace with many of its rivals in recent years.

In addition, Forest Laboratories (NYSE:FRX) announced just last week the purchase of Aptalis, a company that makes treatments for cystic fibrosis and gastrointestinal problems, for a total consideration of $2.9 billion. The deal looks set to boost Forest Laboratories' revenue by up to $700 million next year and forms part of a strategy by new CEO Brenton Saunders to cut costs, restructure the business, and add to the range of treatments it offers.

Another reason to cheer
As mentioned, shares in Valeant have performed extremely well over the last year, and part of the reason for that has been encouraging news flow. The latest upbeat release from the company concerned the receipt of regulatory approval from the FDA for a supplemental new drug application for Retin-A Micro (tretinoin) Gel microsphere 0.08% for the topical treatment of acne. Valeant stated that it will launch the product in the near future.

Indeed, with shares having doubled over the last year, the next key release from Valeant could be its fourth quarter results, which are due to be released on February 27. Certainly, 2014 could prove to be another interesting year for investors in the stock and, with logical bolt-on acquisitions and encouraging news flow, Valeant could be a great investment for 2014 and beyond.

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Peter Stephens has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Valeant Pharmaceuticals. It recommends and owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.