By Michael Erman
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Drugmaker Allergan Plc said on Wednesday it plans to sell two of its smaller businesses, the women’s health and infectious disease units, as Chief Executive Brent Saunders works to end a steep slide in its share price over the last year.
Some investors and analysts had hoped for a more dramatic outcome from the company’s strategic review launched earlier this year. Allergan’s <AGN.N> shares closed up 0.3 percent.
Saunders said that after the sales, the company would focus on four core businesses: medical aesthetics, central nervous system, eye care and gastrointestinal products.
“We have a very strong pipeline in all those areas. Having a focus on those four areas will make Allergan a more exciting company,” he said in an interview.
Allergan’s board has said it considered more drastic options, such as splitting the company or making acquisitions, after shares dropped more than 40 percent from last July.
Saunders said the decision by the board to shed just those two businesses – responsible for only about 7 percent of the company’s revenue, according to analysts – was unanimous.
Assuming a 30 percent premium for the units, RBC Capital Markets analyst Randall Stanicky said the infectious disease business could be worth around $1.5 billion, while women’s health could be worth more than double that.
He said proceeds from the sales would likely be split between paying down debt and share buybacks.
Some analysts have lobbied for a breakup of the company to create value. Allergan’s executives have argued the process would be difficult, lengthy and costly, limiting its benefits.
Billionaire David Tepper’s Appaloosa LP has increased his stake in the company and received Federal Trade Commission clearance that could pave the way for him to become an activist investor.
Investor reaction suggests modest disappointment with the company’s decision, Barclays analyst Douglas Tsao said.
“Allergan needs more of a tweak than an overhaul,” he said in a research note, adding that the company should focus on improving research and development and how it deploys its capital.
One issue that could slow the sale of the women’s health business is a ruling on safety by U.S. regulators for its Esmya uterine fibroids treatment, expected in August.
Saunders said potential buyers would probably want to wait out that decision before completing a deal.
The company also recalled a lot of its Taytulla birth control pills, which were packaged with placebo pills in the wrong order.
(Reporting by Michael Erman in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Bill Berkrot)