Brent Saunders on Wednesday accepted accountability for Allergan's (AGN) earnings miss, but also reiterated that for the drugmaker, buying back stock will take precedence over acquisitions as its most accretive driver after the six tuck-in deals announced in its third quarter raised concern among some investors.
The CEO told investors on a conference call that he takes "personal responsibility" for widely missing the company's third-quarter earnings target.
"In fairness, it's something that frankly under my leadership we've never had," Saunders said, adding that while the miss is disappointing, "the business is not less predictable in any way, shape or form."
Saunders went on to say that Allergan had a lot going on in the wake of its continued transformation, and it didn't anticipate the sales declines of products facing competition from generics, including its Alzheimer's treatment Namenda. Allergan's Asacol and its replacement product Delzicol, which are used to treat ulcerative colitis, represented another franchise that suffered from generic competition.
The Dublin-headquartered company posted earnings per share of $3.32 over the quarter, falling 24 cents short of FactSet's consensus of $3.56 a piece. Sales during the period also came in lower than expected at $3.62 billion, as opposed to expectations of $3.67 billion.
Allergan also guided down its full-year earnings-per-share estimate to a midpoint of $13.40, from $13.98.
Allergan presented some good news, too. The company not only bolstered its share buyback program by $5 billion to $15 billion, but also issued its first every quarterly dividend of 70 cents.
The announcement that it will buy back another $10 billion in shares should result in about 10% accretion, Leerink's Jason Gerberry wrote in a Nov. 2 report, which highlighted the fact that "AGN has expressed concern that the company might be shifting toward an uncomfortable balance of R&D stage deals where the underlying assets carry a fair amount of clinical risk."
Of course, the call didn't end without a discussion of M&A. Having announced six so-called stepping stone deals during its third quarter alone, Saunders told investors that Allergan retains significant firepower to go after intellectual property and R&D assets to support its pipeline as well as accretive deals in its therapeutic areas that expand its commercial capabilities or geographic footprint.
Saunders added that the company has the capacity to look at at everything from $100 billion deals to those worth several billion dollars.
When asked about the pricing environment for 2016 and beyond, Saunders said he doesn't see any major changes or surprises in price within Allergan's portfolio, but cautioned that pricing will vary across the overall industry. Allergan's market capitalization is about $82 billion.
"For the industry, it's going to be a very different situation depending on the product mix of their portfolios," the CEO said of Allergan's peers.
Allergan shares retreated about 2.2% to $204.7 during Wednesday morning's trading session.