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How Buffett Caused Valeant Stock's Latest Tumble

By Todd Campbell - May 2, 2016 at 1:51PM

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Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger offered up a strong indictment of the company over the weekend.

What: After Warren Buffett and his longtime business partner Charlie Munger weighed in with their thoughts on the company over the weekend, shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals (BHC 2.03%) tumbled more than 13% this morning. They have since recovered much of their early-morning losses and are trading down 4.17% at 1:30 p.m. ET.

So what: Buffett and Munger held court in Omaha over the weekend to update investors on the past year's progress at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A 1.69%) (BRK.B 1.64%). As usual, their wide-ranging conversation covered a lot of ground, including Buffett waxing philosophical about how Coca-Cola-inspired happiness may have bettered his health and saying that most people should take quarterly gross domestic product figures with a grain of salt because they're too short term.

As I mentioned, the investing legends also shared their opinion on Valeant Pharmaceutical, the much-maligned drugmaker that has fallen by 85% since August. In the wake of revelations stemming from scrutiny over its buy-reprice-relaunch M&A strategy and a too-close-for-comfort relationship with a specialty pharmacy, Valeant has drawn considerable ire from investors.

According to Buffett, Valeant is "enormously flawed." Munger offered up a less politically correct view of the company, saying, "Valeant of course is a sewer." In a Monday morning interview on CNBC, Munger described Valeant's behavior as "evil" and "demented." 

Now what: These comments come on the heels of Valeant's former CEO, Michael Pearson, and top investor Bill Ackman answering questions from Congress about Valeant's pricing strategy last week.

In Washington, Ackman attempted to convince regulators that he understands the anger over Valeant's past pricing decisions, and reminded them that he's installed new management he believes will run the company more appropriately in the future.

Today, Ackman responded to the negative comments by Buffett and Munger by arguing that Valeant shouldn't be indicted on the whole because of the actions of a few. Valeant is Ackman's largest position, and he joined Valeant's board in March.

Looking beyond the entertainment factor of this war of words, investors should keep a close eye on how Valeant is progressing with its restructuring. In a bid to reduce its heavy debt burden, investment banks are evaluating possible divestitures. Assuming creditors play ball with management and the company right-sizes itself, there could be an opportunity for value-minded investors. Buffett and Munger, however, aren't convinced.

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