Greenberg: What You May Have Missed
-- Keeping an Eye on Nu Skin
-- Analyzing the Analyst on Clean Harbor
-- Dueling Reports on Pharma Mega Mergers It was a light week as I am working on new stories, but here is a roundup from last week's Reality Check. Plus, as an added bonus, there is a new red flag. KEEP AN EYE ON NU SKIN: The next date that counts will be March 18, which is the deadline for the company to file its delayed 10-K. As I wrote on here last week, the company disclosed that its audit committee had hired "outside counsel" to help with an internal review of Nu Skin's (NUS - Get Report) China operations. But why would the audit committee be involved in a review of the company's China operation -- whose operations are being probed by the Chinese government? And why would the audit committee hire outside counsel? This update: Over the past week, Nu Skin, which didn't take questions on its recent fourth-quarter earnings call, cancelled two investor presentations. The bigger question, now that the company is halfway through its first quarter, is what impact the China investigation has had on the growth Nu Skin's Chinese sales force -- its biggest area of growth. I'm adding Nu Skin to the Watch List with a red flag as of Monday's close. The stock has already fallen by half but, unless its China growth can resume and continue on its prior path, its model faces an unusually high level of risk. Reminder: This stock traded at $41 a year ago. It closed at $76 on Monday.
ANALYZING THE ANALYST ON CLEAN HARBORS: It was noteworthy that Raymond James analyst Bill Fisher upgraded Clean Harbors (CLH - Get Report), after yet another horrible quarter, to a strong buy from the equivalent of a hold. Much of his recommendation, as I wrote here on Reality Check last week, appeared to be based on his belief that the company "seemed to allude that the seismic portion of sales (~one-third)" from its oil and gas and refining operations "may not be core to the operation." Me: Seemed to allude?
MEANWHILE, ON THE MEGA-MERGER FRONT: I didn't write about this over the past week, but The Value Investment Institute weighed in on the new wave of pharmaceutical rollups, which has been bolstering the shares of Valeant Pharma (VRX - Get Report), Endo International (ENDP) and Actavis (ACT). (Hint: It's troubled by the trend.) Not to be outdone, consulting firm McKinsey wrote a paper on "why pharma mega mergers work." Hint: It's not troubled by the trend. Reality check: Valeant CEO Michael Pearson, until joining Valeant in 2008, hailed from (drumroll!) McKinsey. Interpret that as you will. -- Written by Herb Greenberg in San Diego Follow @herbgreenberg