Concordia International Corp.: A Safe Buy?

Concordia International Corp. (TSX:CXR)(NASDAQ:CXRX) is a risky, debt-ridden company that could grow quite handsomely if a series of steps are accomplished.

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We’ve all had that one stock that was doing well one day, and then the next day it was heading straight for the gutters. Concordia International Corp. (TSX:CXR)(NASDAQ:CXRX) is that company.

In the beginning of September 2015, the stock was over $110 per share. Fast forward to today, only 13 months later, and the stock can be had for $6.04 per share. And along the way the $0.075 dividend was cut, leaving investors with nothing to feel excited about.

Why did it tank, though?

A big part of it had to do with the fact that it deployed a strategy similar to Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Corp. (TSX:VRX)(NYSE:VRX). It was using a significant amount of debt to buy companies left and right, bolstering its portfolio of products. And the thing is, it was acquiring really great assets. It bought Amdipharm Mercury Ltd. for US$3.3 billion, which gave it more than 190 different molecules and commercial reach in over 100 countries. It bought a portfolio of 18 established products from Covis Pharmaceuticals for $1.2 billion.

But when Valeant was accused of egregiously hiking drug prices, investors grew worried that governments were going to impose price caps, which would harm debt-heavy companies–thus, the situation at Concordia.

According to management, the year-end net debt/EBITDA will be approximately 6.4 times. It has a 9.5% senior note worth US$765 million due in seven years. It has a 7% senior note valued at US$710 million due in eight years. It has two term loans valued at a little over US$1 billion and US$637 million, respectively, due in six years.

So, the unfortunate reality is that Concordia is dealing with some serious debt problems that could really tank it.

Then there’s the lower 2016 guidance. Expected revenue was cut from US$1.02-1.06 billion to US$859-888 million with EBITDA cut from US$610-640 million to $510-540 million. The company is earning less and its debt is worse off, so can the company ever get things squared away?

Fortunately, the company has had three bits of good news.

The first is that Steve Cohen, one of the world’s best hedge fund managers, has increased his holding in the company by more than double. On March 31, he owned 65,100 shares. By the end of June, he had increased that number to 1.2 million. And by the middle of August, he had 2.97 million shares. That’s nearly 5.8% of the company. This tells investors that he sees something in the company.

Second, according to Reuters, the company is planning to divest a minority stake to a private equity firm. While details of this are not yet known, the investment would allow the company to bolster its books and hopefully take a chunk out of its debt.

And finally, the company anticipates that it will complete 60 total product launches by Q4 2018. These will all be outside the United States, which will continue to help the company diversify its earnings in other parts of the world. As these products gain market share, they should help elevate the company’s earnings and help it pay down the debt.

Here’s my stance on Concordia.

It’s a risky stock, like most healthcare companies that have depended on debt to grow. But it is incredibly cheap, and, if it can turn things around, it could experience serious growth. Starting a small position might help investors to realize some of these gains, and you can scale in on the way up.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Jacob Donnelly has no position in any stocks mentioned. Tom Gardner owns shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool owns shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

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