You've got to hand it to the management team at Questcor Pharmaceuticals (UNKNOWN:QCOR.DL) -- they've got guts. Today, only days removed from a barrage of extremely negative news, the company announced it is initiating a $0.20 per share dividend and more than doubling its share repurchase authorization. Is this move a last-ditch effort to support a depressed stock, or is there more to this show of confidence?
For a quick refresher, here's a quick summary recent Questcor events:
Sept. 19: Health insurer Aetna (NYSE:AET) releases a clinical policy bulletin indicating that Acthar, Questcor's lead drug, would not be covered indications other than infantile spasms. Of the 1,526 paid prescriptions for Achthar in its last quarter, only 6% were for infantile spasms. Shares fall 48% on fear of further fallout from insurers.
Sept. 20: Questcor hosts a conference call detailing the reimbursement process for Acthar, suggesting that pushback from insurers is the norm. Management explains that while they regularly see insurance denials, they have a solid record of winning appeals when providing proper patient records. Shares rise 15%.
Sept. 24: A Questcor SEC filing discloses that on Sept. 21, the company "became aware of a U.S. government investigation involving the Company's promotional practices." Shares fall 37%.
Sept. 28: Questcor announces the initiation of a $0.20 quarterly dividend. The company also boosts its share repurchase authorization from 3.2 million shares to 7 million.
Assuming an $0.80 annual dividend, shares are now yielding 4.3%. This ranks Questcor as one of two non-big pharma health care stocks yielding more than 4%. The other, PDL Biopharma (NASDAQ:PDLI), boasts a massive 7.8% yield but is approaching a massive patent cliff that will likely put that payout in jeopardy.
While today's announcement could be a great opportunity to grab a juicy health care dividend with potential to grow in the future, it could just as easily turn out to be a trap if the company loses additional insurance coverage for Acthar or has to change its promotional practices in a way that impedes future revenue growth.